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Photographer at full strength

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This is Annie Leibovitz's second book summarizing a period of her career. The first covered 1970 to 1990, when she established herself at Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair before moving into high-profile commercial photography. This book shows an artist at full strength, having grown both technically and aesthetically, and showing a perception paralleled by few other photographers working today.

The title reflects not only her medium but also the book's content. Leibovitz offers warm photos of her parents, and her siblings and their families. (Imagine having "Annie" as the family shutterbug.)

But the most revealing photos are those of Leibovitz's longtime partner, writer Susan Sontag, who died of cancer in 2004. The women traveled the world together for both pleasure and work, and the candid photos of Sontag portray an intense, warm woman with a love of life and people.

Leibovitz also shares personal photos of herself, some taken by Sontag, and of her three daughters. And she documents in unblinking fashion the deaths of Sontag and her own father.

In the introduction, Leibovitz describes editing the photographs as taking her through the grieving process. "It's the closest thing to who I am that I've ever done," she writes. Opening up her life is an extraordinary act, with extraordinary impact.

A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005

By Annie Leibovitz

Random House, $75

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© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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