DON McCULLIN got his break in photography when Britain's Observer newspaper bought one of his photographs of London's gangland. After this he was on the road as a photojournalist. But it was during the Vietnam War, after stints in Cyprus during the civil war and the Congo, that McCullin's stark images collected here under the title Sleeping With Ghosts: A Life's Work In Photography (Vintage $255), became part of the furniture of our minds. There are 400 images, all chosen by McCullin and all visceral but magnificent. McCullin, who grew up in one of London's poorest ghettos and failed his National Service theory papers because of dyslexia, has never sought to intellectualise his work. He is a master of the moment, and no British photographer has approached his power in conveying the cruelty that has beset the world over the past 40 years. His work has taken a toll. In his present Somerset home McCullin tries to eradicate the past by 'creating his own days' in his garden shed, assembling still life subjects of flowers, grapes and Chinese wise men, photographs which are also included in this book. He says he lives with the memory of all those frightful images of human conflict while the negatives are neatly filed away in his study. 'I try to resist the temptation of printing my pictures too dark.' That past includes tours of duty among the refugees of Bangladesh, as the above picture of an abandoned child illustrates, the killing fields of Cambodia, where untrained doctors amputated shattered limbs in Crimean conditions, and the Iraqi Kurds, after Saddam Hussein's defeat in the Gulf War. The book is not only a lucid record of man's inhumane behaviour towards his fellow man. There were many times during his career that McCullin felt the urge to get away - to India, which he first visited with travel writer Eric Newby, or to Indonesia, a country he says he could spend a lifetime photographing. These pictures are part of the retrospective and stand as eloquent testament to McCullin's skill and subtle poetic power.