For more than a century, photography has revealed truths, exposed lies, advanced the public discourse, and inspired people to demand change. Socially conscious pioneers with cameras transformed the world—and that legacy lives on in this eye-opening, thought-provoking, and (we hope) action-inducing book. Like Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth before it, we believe that What Matters will fundamentally alter the way we see and understand the human race and our planet.

What Matters asks: What are the essential issues of our time? What are the pictures that will spark public outrage and spur reform? The answer appears in 18 powerful, page-turning stories by the foremost photojournalists of our age, edited by The New York Times best-selling author/editor David Elliot Cohen (A Day in the Life and America 24/7 series), and featuring trenchant commentary from well-recognized experts and thinkers in appropriate fields. Photographer Gary Braasch and climate-change guru Bill McKibben provide “A Global Warming Travelogue” that takes us from ice caves in Antarctica to smoke-spewing coal plants in Beijing. Brent Stirton and Peter A. Glick examine a “Thirsty World,” chronicling the daily search for clean water in non-developed countries. James Nachtwey and bestselling poverty expert Jeffrey D. Sachs look at the causes of, and cures for, global poverty in “The Bottom Billion.” Stephanie Sinclair and Judith Bruce present the preteen brides of Afghanistan, Nepal, and Ethiopia.

Sometimes the juxtaposition of photographs can be startling: “Shop ‘til We Drop,” Lauren Greenfield’s images of upscale consumer culture, starkly contrast with Shehzad Noorani’s “Children of the Black Dust”—child laborers in Bangladesh, their faces blackened with carbon dust from recycled batteries.

The combination of compelling photographs and insightful writing make this a highly relevant, widely discussed book bound to appeal to anyone concerned about the crucial issues shaping our world. What Matters is, in effect, a 336-page illustrated letter to the next American president about the issues that count. It will inspire readers to do their part—however small—to make a difference: to help, the volume includes extensive “What You Can Do” sections with a menu of web links and effective actions readers can take now. This year give What Matters.

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402758340
  • ASIN: B0045JK6R4
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds