The Associated Press has released Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press. A new powerful photography book from their top photo journalists who went and in some cases died covering the Vietnam war. Following my just completed read of Once Upon a Distant War it was only natural to seek out the work from those photographers mentioned.
They played a significant role in the AP’s work from 1961-1963. Horst Faas is clearly front and center as one of the great war photographers. This book holds many of his acclaimed photographs. When you think back to almost any powerful photo from the war Horst probably captured the image.
The book’s overview from Pete Hamill further brings to life the role of AP reporters. Throughout Vietnam from the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu to the NVA tanks rolling into the Palace in Saigon AP reporters covered the entire war.
Photographers always become victims of war. Their work in this book is powerful and a tribute to their craft.
Once Upon a Distant War by William Prochnau is a completely fascinating look at journalism coverage of the Vietnam war in the early 1960s. Remember how Napster disrupted the music industry? A handful or journalists did the same.
In 1959 Malcolm Brown arrived in IndoChina having earned his war reporting in Korea for Stars and Stripes.
A number of young journalists stationed in Saigon from 1961-1963 had the same effect on the newspaper industry at a time when television was about to eclipse print in news reporting to middle America.
The focus of Prochnau is the role of Malcolm Brown, David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett, Horst Faas and Stanley Karnow.
They even faced off with their editors who were Korean War reporters themselves but now lived and worked in Washington, New York and LA. The young turks were actually in the jungles with American advisors. They experienced first hand the early failures.
Critical reporting of the US war effort brought them into conflict with General Paul Harkins, commander of the US war effort in Saigon. Yet Prochnau identifies three events within the two year span that reset the war for America: Ap Bac, The Buddhist Crisis and the American coup against Diem. It was interesting to have understood how Halberstam was commanding the stories out of Siagon and establishing strong relationships with John Paul Vann leading into Ap Bac. All while being misled by US General Paul Harkins in Saigon who was commanding MACV.
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