This book is the result of over a year's work in 2016 and 2017 photographing the military campaign to reclaim Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, from ISIS. Working exclusively for the New York Times, Irish-born photographer Ivor Prickett (born 1983) was often embedded within Iraqi special forces troops as he documented both the fighting and its toll on the civilian population and urban landscape. The operation lasted nearly nine months, resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and ruined vast tracts of the city. Involving some of the most brutal urban combat since World War II, the fall of Mosul was key to the downfall of the Islamic State: soon after, the remains of the so-called "Caliphate" quickly collapsed.
Prickett focuses on the human struggles of conflict. Taken on the frontline, his pictures legitimately and compellingly record the experience of being "caught in the crossfire," whether as a soldier or noncombatant. He furthermore captures postwar reality while attempting to reconstruct the final weeks of combat: the devastated city, including abandoned corpses of ISIS fighters, and, months later, families searching for missing loved ones and civilians returning to reclaim their homes and lives.