The Grey Line

The Grey Line is a reflection on war told from the perspective of US and UK soldiers who have spoken out against the Iraq War. Photographer Jo Metson Scott began the project after meeting a young American soldier who had been denied Conscientious Objector  status and had gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave) in order to avoid redeployment to Iraq. This soldier's story inspired Metson Scott. Over the next several years, she went across the US in search of other veterans who had also been morally opposed to the war and who had spoken out against it. 

At a time when the legality of the war as a whole was being disputed internationally, Metson Scott focused on individual's personal struggles with morality. Her subjects were people who had willingly chosen to fight but as the realities of war became clearer, found themselves questioning their officers, their country, and themselves.

Through photographs and interviews, The Grey Line explores the lives of these soldiers to more fully understand what it was that changed their minds and drove them to take an anti-war position. A few had first-hand experiences at Abu Ghraib , others witnessed one too many senseless civilian deaths, while some broke down in the face of heartless military logic. 

Despite their change of heart, every single subject portrayed demonstrated great courage in speaking out against the war. They faced, variously: imprisonment, physical abuse, dishonorable discharge, deportation, or disownment by their family and friends. In the face of these hardships, each subject was driven so strongly by their moral convictions, they carried through with their decision to speak out.

Metson Scott's combination of words and pictures has a profound effect. She conveys powerful individual narratives through text and then deepens our sense of connection through the images. Although the book contains dozens of stories, each one of them stands out as distinct, important, and worth reading in detail. The Grey Line is a work that demands a great deal of emotional investment and it rewards that investment on every page. 

With the invasion of Iraq almost 11 years in the past, we might be tempted to consign it to the pages of a history book. The Grey Line reminds us of that war's continuing impact and more lastingly, the catastrophic and wholly needless toll of all conflict. 

A deeply moving book, highly recommended.

—Alexander Strecker

 

The Grey Line by Jo Metson Scott
Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing
Hardcover: 122 pages