The real costs of war are sometimes lost in calculating discussions of global politics, but the photographs that won this year's Pulitzer prizes make those costs hard to ignore and impossible to forget. They take us directly to the heart of the matter: human lives.
Massoud Hossaini's image of 12-year-old Tarana Akbari in Kabul, Afghanistan -- standing bloodied and heartbroken after a suicide bombing at a shrine -- is a stunningly emotional image. Taken on Dec. 6, 2011 for Agence France-Presse, it was recognized in the breaking news photography category.
The winning entry in the Pulitzer's feature photography category is every bit as emotionally searing. But here the victim -- one of so many like him -- is a veteran of the Iraq war, back at home in America where he is trying to deal with a severe case of post-traumatic stress. The photos of Brian Scott Ostrom by the Denver Post's Craig F. Walker take us into a life ruined by war. This link to the Post's project includes the award-winning photos.
The New York Times photography blog, Lens, includes interviews with both photographers.
(The photo above, via Getty Images, is by Massoud Hossaini for Agence France-Presse)