Susan Sontag, like the Italian writer Umberto Eco, is among the few present day cultural critics whose influence resonates, in part through their novels, beyond the intellectual press and university libraries. In 1977 Sontag published On Photography, an extended essay looking at the role of photography in the West, which went on to become her most celebrated book. Its publication came at the close of the Vietnam war, which brought documentary photography, via the media, to the breakfast tables and television screens of America and Europe. The book’s importance lay in the way it developed its readers’ relationship with the photographic image by introducing an accessible language in which to discuss the increasing torrent of images around us. Sontag took discussion of photography out of the specialist realm into that of the everyday. Now, in Regarding the Pain of Others, the author returns to the nature of the photographic image in the West; to re-evaluate and reconsider some of her original findings in On Photography.