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HomeContentsThemes > Vietnam - Viet Nam


Information requests
148.01   Improving content on countries
Vietnam War (1961-1975)
148.02   The French Indochina War and the origins of the Vietnam War (1961-1975)
148.03   Increasing American involvement in Vietnam
148.04   The photographic legacy of the Vietnam War (1961-1975)
148.05   Photographers of the Vietnam War (1961-1975)
148.06   David Dare Parker: Agent Orange, Vietnam
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
Information requests 
148.01   Asia >  Improving content on countries 
We are seeking to extend the information and examples we can share on this country.
  • Earliest photographs
  • Key photographers and their studios
  • Major documentary photographic series
  • Significant historical events
  • Books, magazines and journals - including their covers
  • Photographic societies and associations - including outings and meetings
These points are indicative of topics that could be included on this page and if you have expertise you would like to share now is the time to get in touch.
If you are able to assist in any way it is appreciated.
Vietnam War (1961-1975) 
148.02   Asia >  The French Indochina War and the origins of the Vietnam War (1961-1975) 
The origins of the Vietnam War (1961-1975) were rooted in the French colonial legacy in South East Asia and the rising tensions of the Cold War (1945-1991. By 1885 France had effectively taken over the whole of Vietnam and although the Emperor remained in power the country was firmly held by a French educated elite. Japan occupied Vietnam during the Second World War (1939-1945) but the aspirations for an independent country were gaining strength under Ho Chi Minh and on 2 September 1945 independence was declared. The French struggled to maintain control in the French Indochina War (13 March-7 May 1954) as the communist forces gained strength but when the French were defeated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 they were unable to continue and pulled out.
Photojournalist Robert Capa died by stepping on a landmine in French Indochina on 25 May 1954. 
148.03   Asia >  Increasing American involvement in Vietnam 
During the Cold War (1945-1991[1] America became increasingly involved as an activist partisipant in the divisions between the Communist forces of the North and the non-communist South which was effectively propped up military, financially and politically by America. First the support was through advisors but it became clearer as time went on that the distinction between military advice and full scale involvement was murky to say the least. This is the period covered in the Graham Greene novel The Quiet American[2] (1955) and was based in his experiences as a war correspondent for The Times and Le Figaro in French Indochina (1951–1954). 
148.04   Asia >  The photographic legacy of the Vietnam War (1961-1975) 
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A few striking images out of the millions taken can sum up in the mind of the public the dichotomy of the necessity and futility of military action. Wars are made out of darkness and despair and the Vietnam War[3] had those in abundance. It was a war where single images were strong enough to revolt the public and provoke changes in policy.
  • Nick Ut photographed the naked young girl, Kim Phuk, and other children running down a road after she had been napalmed.  
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    Nick Ut 
  • The 1968 shooting of a Viet Cong prisoner with his hands behind his back in a Saigon street by General Nguyen Ngoc Loan.[4] This photograph taken by Eddie Adams (1933-2004) is one of the seminal images of the war although the photographer stated that it showed the situation out of a broader context.[5]  
    Eddie Adams 
  • Japanese photographer Kyoichi Sawada of United Press International was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 1965 for the News category for his photo A mother and her children wade across a river to escape US bombing. The US Air Force had evacuated their village because it was suspected of being used as a base camp by the Vietcong. In 1965 he also won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography. In 1966 for his photograph taken at Tan Binh of The body of a Vietcong soldier is dragged behind an American armored vehicle en route to a burial site after fierce fighting. He died in 1970 [6]whilst covering the war and was postumously awarded the Rober Capa Gold Medal in 1972.  
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    Kyoichi Sawada 
  • Exhausted wounded GI's in Reaching out, Battle of Hill 484 (1966) - Larry Burrows[7]  
    Larry Burrows 
  • The dull stares from battle weary soldiers - Don McCullin[8]  
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    Don McCullin 
  • On March 16, 1968, Charlie Company, a unit of the US Eleventh Light Infantry Brigade, was ordered into combat at My Lai hamlet in the Quang Ngai Province of South Vietnam by Captain Ernest Medina. The 150 soldiers, led by the 24 year old Lt. William Calley, stormed into the hamlet, and four hours later more than 500 civilians, unarmed women, children, and old men, were dead.[9] As the third platoon moved into My Lai, it was followed by army photographer Ronald Haeberle - the photographs he took of soldiers burning the village, the dead children and a rural road littered with civilian casualties[10] - were some of the crucial evidence at the investigations and trials that followed an unsuccessful cover-up by the military.[11] Only two weeks after the trial was held in 1971 and Calley convicted Harris opinion polls in the USA showed that support for the war had fallen below 50% for the first time.  
    Sergeant Ronald Haeberle: My Lai massacre (16 March 1968) 
The American defeat in Vietnam was in part blamed upon the press who continually reported the horrors of war and that had a considerable effect upon the publics willingness to continue support. As Marshall McLuhan said in 1975:
Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America - not on the battlefields of Vietnam.[12]
American combat forces were largely withdrawn by March 1973 though troops remained to protect installations. The airlift from the US Embassy roof showed the panic on televisions around the world and was followed by The Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975 when the South Vietnamese government announced its unconditional surrender to the Vietcong.
The book Another Vietnam (2002) edited by Tim Page that shows the images taken by the opposing side in the Vietnam conflict. Marc Riboud was unusual as a French photojournalist he took images in North Vietnam during the war. 
148.05   Asia >  Photographers of the Vietnam War (1961-1975) 
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Photographers of the French Indochina War and the Vietnam War (1961-1975) included:
Larry Burrows[13]
Robert Capa[14]
David Douglas Duncan
Horst Faas[15]
Philip Jones Griffiths[16]
Catherine Leroy[17]
Don McCullin[18]
Tim Page[19]
Marc Riboud
Kyoichi Sawada
Christine Spengler
Nick Ut
Philip Jones Griffiths's devastating book Vietnam, Inc.[20] showed war in grizzly detail the military and civilian cost of the war. In a measured tone, and perhaps because of it, his images shriek of the horror. In 2003 he followed this with his book Agent Orange[21] that graphically shows the human cost of the chemical defoliation of Vietnam. His interest in the country continued with his book Vietnam at Peace.
135 photojournalists died covering the wars in Indochina, including Robert Capa, Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, Robert Jackson Ellison and Kyoichi Sawada
148.06   Asia >  David Dare Parker: Agent Orange, Vietnam 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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  1. Λ John Lamberton Harper, 2011, The Cold War, (Oxford University Press) 
  2. Λ Graham Greene, 1955, The Quiet America, (Viking). There is film The Quiet American (2002) starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser. 
  3. Λ For Vietnam War photographers - Horst Faas,1997, Requiem By the Photographers who Died in Vietnam and Indochina, (New York: Random House); Catherine Leroy, & John McCain (foreword), 2005, Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam, (Random House) 
  4. Λ The photo won Eddie Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography. 
  5. Λ Edie Adams wrote in Time ("Euology", 27 July 1998):
    The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, "What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?"
  6. Λ IN October 1970 Kyoichi Sawada was in a car with the UPI bureau chief Frank Frosch south of Phnom Penh when they were killed. 
  7. Λ Larry Burrows died during the Vietnam War - David Halberstam, Richard Pyle & Horst Faas, 2003, Lost over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship, (Da Capo Press) 
  8. Λ Don McCullin's autobiography - Don McCullin, 1992, Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography, (Knopf) 
  9. Λ James Stuart Olson & Randy Roberts (eds), 1998, My Lai: A Brief History with Documents, (Palgrave Macmillan); David L. Anderson, 2000, Facing My Lai: Moving Beyond the Massacre, (University of Kansas Press) 
  10. Λ PBS, American Experience: Photographic Evidence of the Massacre at My Lai - 
  11. Λ Deaths of Vietnamese noncombatants were far more common than previously thought and research reveals were a consequence of American orders to "kill anything that moves" and an obsession with body counts - Nick Turse, 2013, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, (Metropolitan Books) 
  12. Λ Marshall McLuhan Interview 1967
    (Accessed: 9 December 2013) 
  13. Λ Larry Burrows died during the Vietnam War - David Halberstam, Richard Pyle & Horst Faas, 2003, Lost over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship, (Da Capo Press) 
  14. Λ Robert Capa died steeping on a landmine in French Indochina. 
  15. Λ Horst Faas also wrote about the Vietnam War and the photographers involved - Horst Faas,1997, Requiem By the Photographers who Died in Vietnam and Indochina, (New York: Random House) 
  16. Λ Philip Jones Griffiths, 1971, Vietnam Inc., (New York: Collier Books) [First edition]. New edition - Philip Jones Griffiths, 2001, Vietnam Inc., (Phaidon Press); Philip Jones Griffiths, 2004, Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam, (Trolley Books) 
  17. Λ Catherine Leroy, 2005, Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam, (Random House) 
  18. Λ Don McCullin,2013, Don McCullin, (Archive of Modern Conflict in association with the National Gallery of Canada) 
  19. Λ Tim Page & William Shawcross (introduction), 1995, Tim Page's Nam, (Thames and Hudson, Inc.) 
  20. Λ Philip Jones Griffiths, 1971, Vietnam Inc., (New York: Collier Books) [First edition]. New edition - Philip Jones Griffiths, 2001, Vietnam Inc., (Phaidon Press) 
  21. Λ Philip Jones Griffiths, 2004, Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam, (Trolley Books). Philip Jones Griffiths is unusual as he continued to study the chemical effects of war on civilian populations long after the official fighting had ceased.


HomeContents > Further research

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General reading 
Aubenas, Sylvie; Franchini, Philippe & Ghesquière, Jérôme, 2001, Des photographes en Indochine: Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchine, Cambodge et Laos au XIX°siècle, (Editions Marval et Réunion des Musées Nationaux) isbn-10: 2862343110 isbn-13: 978-2862343112 [French] [Δ
Borge, J., 2002, Indochine Archives des colonies, (Frankrijk) [Δ
Faas, Horst, 1997, Requiem By the Photographers who Died in Vietnam and Indochina, (New York: Random House) [Δ
Hamill, Pete, 2013, Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press, (Harry N. Abrams) isbn-10: 1419708643 isbn-13: 978-1419708640 [Δ
Musée Guimet, 2005, Missions archéologiques au Vietnam. Photographes et itinéraires 1902-1904, (Les Indes savantes) isbn-10: 2846541221 isbn-13: 978-2846541220 [Δ
Turse, Nick, 2013, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, (Metropolitan Books) isbn-10: 0805086919 isbn-13: 978-0805086911 [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Larry Burrows 
Halberstam, D., 2002, Larry Burrows Vietnam, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf) [Δ
Pierre Dieulefils 
Vincent, Thierry, 1997, Pierre Dieulefils: photographe-editeur de cartes postales d'Indochine : plus de 4800 references sur le Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchine, Cambodge, Yunnan, Chine, (Gignac-la-Nerthe: [Thierry Vincent]) [Δ
Philip Jones Griffiths 
Griffiths, Philip Jones, 2004, Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam, (Trolley Books) isbn-10: 1904563058 isbn-13: 978-1904563051 [Δ
Griffiths, Philip Jones & Pilger, John, 2005, Philip Jones Griffiths: Viet Nam At Peace, (Alpen Editions) isbn-10: 1904563384 isbn-13: 978-1904563389 [Δ
Griffiths, Philip Jones & Sayle, Murray, 1996, Dark Odyssey, (Aperture Foundation) isbn-10: 0893816450 isbn-13: 978-0893816452 [Δ
John Thomson 
Montague, Joel & Mizerski, Jim, 2014, John Thomson: The Early Years - In Search of the Orient, (White Lotus Press) isbn-10: 974843494X isbn-13: 978-9748434940 [Δ
Thomson, John, 1875, Straits of Malacca, Indo-China, and China, or, Ten Years Travels, Adventures, and Residence Abroad, (New York: Harper and Brothers) [Δ
Thomson, John, 1875, The Straits of Malacca, Indo-China, and China; or Ten Years' Travels, Adventures and Residence Abroad, (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Bill Burke  (1943-) • Henry Cremintz • Pierre Dieulefils  (1862-1937) • Émile Gsell  (1838-1879) • Catherine Leroy  (1944-2006) • David Dare Parker • Kyoichi Sawada  (1936-1970) • Nicolas Tikhomiroff  (1927-) • Pierre Toutain-Dorbec  (1951-) • Nick Ut  (1951-)
HomeGeographical regionsAsia > Vietnam - Viet Nam 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Agent Orange 
Vietnam War (1961-1975) 
Key dates 
Vietnam War (1961-1975) 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Vietnam - Viet Nam

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
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ThumbnailSouth East Asia in the 19th Century 
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Improved (October 20, 2010)

HomeVisual indexes > Vietnam - Viet Nam

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ThumbnailA. Kit: European lady posed in Vietnamese clothing 
ThumbnailBao N'Guyen: Vietnam: Portraits 
ThumbnailDavid Dare Parker: Agent Orange, Vietnam 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailEmile Gsell: Mnong warriors, Vietnam 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailÉmile Gsell: Views of Indochina 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailDocumentary: Health: Agent Orange 
   Ethnic groups and races 
Refreshed: 25 January 2015, 21:06
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