Liberia, July 20, 2003. A dreadlocked soldier leaps into the air. He has his rocket-propelled grenade launcher on his back. His battle cry roars into the melee of sounds and twists his face into this face that has often gone unseen: The face of a soldier enjoying war. Chris Hondros took this photo. He caught the soldier’s rejoicing in this picture and it was broadcast and printed all over the world; it was a photo of exhilaration that became the face of Liberia’s fourteen-year civil war.

But what side was that soldier on? What was he fighting for? His motivations aren’t in the photograph. They can’t be seen in the dust and sunlight and low, graffitied buildings and crumbling bridge. All that can be seen in Hondros’s photograph is a man who loves war. That is the truth of this picture.

The soldier’s name is Joseph Duo. He was a...

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