Books, Movies, and Documentries
The books listed below, both literary
and pictorial, are what this fellow recommends. Do you have
a favorite read or one book you consider absolute reading as
we do? Then let us know.
I've only commented on books that I have
read. Others I will leave blank until I do, like Requiem.
To order a book or to just check it out at Amazon click
on the book title. Most of the books have reviews. Read them
and decide for yourself.
Yes, we make a commision if you purchase
a book from Amazon but only if you click-thru from us.
It's not much but every little bit helps.
Reguired Reading | Vietnam
War Photographic Books | Additional Photographic
Other Readings | Movies and Documentries
The Best and the Brightest
by David Halberstam. Fawcett Books (November 1993) ISBN: 0449908704.
This book starts depressing and only gets
worse. It was first published in 1974 and this former Marine was
not up to reading anything about Vietnam in 1974. Just forget
it. Now in 2003 I have read it.
What is even more depressing is that I
keep seeing our experience in Iraq while reading about our political
history of Vietnam. It's da ja vu all over again. Halberstam ends
the book in 1965 with the build up and active involvement in fighting
the Viet-Cong and the North Vietamese by Americans.
Of the two books I list here as required
reading the most important is The Best and the Brightest.
Why? Because this was a political conflict and we lost because
we were incorrect politically.
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
by Neil Sheehan. Publisher: Vintage Books (September 1989) ISBN:
Neil Sheehan tells the history of our involvement
in Vietnam through the story of Lt. Col. John Paul Vann. Vann
was in Vietnam from 1962 until killed in 1972.
This is the story of our military in Vietnam.
Combined with The Best and the Brightest's political history
these two books give the best overvue of a great American tragedy.
Along with the Best and the Brightest
this is absolute required reading. Every student, every national
political leader, everyone should read both of these books.
The Making Of A Quagmire by David
Halberstam. Publisher: Random House (1965)
If you are one of those that still think
we could have been victors in Vietnam you probably think Mr. Halberstam
is a defeatist and not the realist that he probably is. If for
no other reason read this book as a warning that all this can
be repeated again. Remember the military was very confident in
the early 60s as they are now. Those who made realistic warnings
about Vietnam were ignored as many were pirior to the invasion
of Iraq. As Yogi has said: "It's day-ja-vo all over again."
This new edition
is now designed for classroom use by Daniel J. Singal. Including
a new introduction and footnotes describing unfamiliar people
and events, this work is lively and accessible for students. With
new maps and photographs, students can visualize the crucial political
events and increase their understanding of the policy errors of
the early 1960s. The Making of a Quagmire captures the
story of the Diem/Kennedy era, and the fundamental misconceptions
that governed American policy and the South Vietnamese perspective.
Fire In The Lake
by Frances Fitzgerald. Publisher: Backway Books (1972)
This landmark work, based on Frances FitzGerald's
own research and travels, takes us inside Vietnam-into the traditional,
ancestor-worshiping villages and the corrupt crowded cities, into
the conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists, Catholics
and Buddhists, generals and monks -and reveals the country as
seen through Vietnamese eyes. With a clarity and authority unrivaled
by any book before it or since, Fire in the Lake shows
how America utterly and tragically misinterpreted the realities
of Vietnam. (Product Description)
War Photographic Books
Larry Burrows, Vietnam
by Larry Burrows, David Halberstam (Introduction.) Knopf, 1st
edition (October 22, 2002) ISBN: 037541102X.
If there is one name associated with Vietnam
and combat photography it is Larry Burrows. I first heard about
Larry from my boss at MCAS Cherry Point, NC, SSgt Dave Deyerle.
Dave* was in Vietnam in '64 and '65 and
had worked with Larry at Da Nang. In those days there wasn't a
seperate facility for the civilian reporters and photographers.
So whenever any photographers showed up in Da Nang they would
use the Marine facilities. Dave knew all the crew members of Yankee
Papa 13 that Burrows made famous in the April 16, 1965 story,
One Ride with Yankee Papa 13, in Life magazine. It was
also on that issue's cover.
One aspect of Larry Burrows' photography
that seperated him from most in Vietnam was that he used color
and used it almost from the beginning. That's why the color image
on the cover. There are many more color photos inside.
Larry Burrows died in a helicopter shot
down on the VietnamLaos border in February 1971. That incident
is reported on in the book, Lost over Laos: A True Story of
Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship, which is
LIFE magazine has a tribute
to Larry. Also a few of Larry's photographs from Vietnam can
be seen at LIFE
magazine. Don't click on the image maps use the text links
The LIFE tribute to Larry Burrows also
has a list of photographers killed in Vietnam. It lists only civilian
photographers with no mention of U.S. Military photographers killed
The book was also featured at DigitalJournalist.
photo could very well have been taken by Dave.
by Phillip Jones Griffiths. Phaidon Press Inc. (September 2001)
We have come to believe that the first
automated war was the first Iraq war in 1991. This is not so.
Vietnam, Inc. reports in words and photos how America made
every attempt to automate the war in Vietnam and therefore reduce
American casualties. Naplam being one of the more infamous weapons
of this automated war.
This not a book for those who believe we
did no wrong in Vietnam. First published in 1971 it was one of
the first published books to condem our involvement in Vietnam.
Additionally you can view the photos from
book at Magnum Photos.
Mr Griffiths new book
deals with Agent Orange and what is has done to the people of
Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina
by Horst Faas (Editor), Tim Page (Editor), David Halberstam (Introduction.)
Random House (October 1997) ISBN: 0679456570.
The Vietnam Photo Book by Mark Jury,
Bernard Edelman. Knopf (September 1986.) ASIN: 03947466.
Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side:
by by Tim Page, Douglas Niven (Editor), Christopher Riley (Editor),
Henry Allen. The book is the culmination of more than five years'
work: drinking bottomless cups of green tea with Communist bureaucrats,
tracking down former war photographers in both the Mekong Delta
and the Hanoi suburbs, printing and scanning old negatives, collecting
caption information, and collating all the material into chapters.
See also the documentary. Or
visit the web site
for this project.
I Protest! Khe Sanh, Vietnam
by David Douglas Duncan. The New American Library - Signet Special
This little book became a classic must
have among photographers I knew. It was published even before
the siege of Khe Sanh was lifted. For an example of raw views
of men under the constant stress of combat this is an amazing
book. You can go through this book and be in any war. Vietnam
was just the setting but combat was the subject.
It was reported to this photographer from
someone who knew of Duncan's trip to Khe Sanh that he probably
never saw a local Vietamese during his stay in country. That stay
was limited to getting to Khe Sanh, doing his work, and getting
back to the states. This was also his method on his previous trip
to Vietnam when he went to a fire base that was one of many that
ran along the North/South Vietnamese border. That story, Con Thien
(October 27, 1967,) and his pictures of Khe Sanh (February 23,
1968) appeared as photo essays in Life magazine.
This book has been out of print for years
and isn't even mentioned at the Amazon site when we did a search
for "David Douglas Duncan." But if you ever run across
a copy take a look. Well worth it. Would you believe this book
only cost $1.00 in 1968!
from this book can be seen at the Harry Ransom Center located
at the University of Texas at Austin. They also have a multimedia
presentation. Possibly the one of the pieces Duncan did
for ABC News.
- It should be noted in fairness to Mr.
Duncan that he had been in Vietnam before and as far back as
1953 he had done a photo essay about Vietnam that appeared in
the August 3, 1953 issue of Life magazine.
- DigitalJournalist features
David in its May 2004 issue. He has been around since WWII
when he was a combat photographer in the Marine Corps.
- I found this book for sale at this
location. Not cheap, they want $30 for a copy.
Published by Jonathan Cape 2000.
The story of the cover photograph: I
was taken into a court yard, and I saw this Man sitting there.
I said to someone whats his problem? And he
said weve had to pull him out, hes gone.
I dropped down in front of him and photographed him. And, you
know, I took about eight frames, (and) not once did he blink those
eyes, and not once did he say anything to me, or move. And he
was looking right through me, as if I was a ghost in front of
him. Don McCullin
America In Crisis
Photographs by Magnum, Text by Mitchel Levitas. A Ridge Press
Book - Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1969.
The work of Magnum photographers in the
year 1968. Gives a good overview of the state of America in that
most turbulent year. Includes Vietnam photos by Philip Jones Griffiths
and Donald McCullin.
Orange: "Collateral Damage" in Viet Nam: by Philip
Jones Griffiths. I can absolutly guarantee you that you have
never REALLY seen what Agent Orange has done
to Vietnam. Now you can. You can also help the victims of Dioxon.
features Mr. Griffiths book in the January 2004 issue. Remember
Mr Griffiths was asked to leave Vietnam after he published Vietnam
Inc. But he did go back and for many years photographed the
devastation caused by Agent Orange. Another place to view the photos
from this book
is at Magnum Photos. It just shows the photos and some are really
to difficult to view. It's not a pretty picture.
Shooting Under Fire: The World of the War Photographer: by
Peter Howe. Shooting Under Fire is the candid testimony and
stunning photography of the men and women who go into battle armed
only with a camera to show warfare as it is and where it is. Ten
of the world's most famous living combat photographers present harrowing,
heroic, and extraordinary accounts of front-line experiences, along
with photographs representing conflicts from Cyprus in the 1950s
to Afghanistan in the 21st century.
Lost over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy,
Mystery, and Friendship by Richard Pyle,
Horst Faas. Da Capo Press ISBN: 0306811.
It's not just the story of the death of
four combat photographers but also how photographers and reporters
survived and sometimes died in Vietnam. You want to be a combat
photographer? You had better read this first.
Vietnam: The Other War
by Charles Anderson. Warner Books, Reprint edition (March 1990)
Charles Anderson was in Vietnam from late
summer '68 until fall '69. His first 6 months were spent in the
rear (Da Nang area) with the 3MPs, which came under the command
of FLC. In his book he talks about Nguyen
Thi Thanh, the interrupter, who this photographer also knew
and worked with. His commentary on the Civil Action Program (CAP),
also know as The Other War, is well worth the cost of the
book. The book also gets very good reviews at Amazon.
The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
by John Laurence. PublicAffairs, (January 8, 2002) ISBN: 1891620312.
Another must read for those who want to
cover war. John Laurence worked for CBS and covered Vietnam from
1965 to 1970. He was a rookie TV reporter when he got to Vietnam
and became one of the best TV reporters to cover the war.
John had this to say about still photography:
Of all the media, perhaps still photography
came closet to showing the truth. The best photographs captured
a precise moment, holding it there for inspection, offering
each image as a fragmentary symbol of someone's reality. By
the nature of their ambiguity, those pictures gave viewers the
privilege of using their imaginations to interpret the reality.
The very best pictures needed no captions. (page 405)
Michael Herr. Vintage Books, Reprint edition (August 1991) ISBN:
Once started only coffee and sleep between
the first and last page. Very intence. Michael Herr was there
for Tet, Hue, Khe Sanh, and the spring attack on Saigon.
After reading Dispatches I'm glad
I didn't arrive in-country until Dec '68.
Virgin Mountain by Larry Heinemann. Doubleday (April 2005) ISBN:
038551221X. Haven't read it yet but it has recieve good reviews.
One reviewer wrote: "A memoir, Larry describes his return visit
to Vietnam, hosted by the Vietnam Writers' Association in 1992.
What he found on that and subsequent visits jibes with nearly all
of the other "going back" books by American veterans:
a warm welcome from a nation at peace. The book's title refers to
an epiphanic climb in 1992 to the top of Black Virgin (Nui Ba Den)
Mountain - a talisman of sorts to many Americans who served in Tay
Ninh Province during the war: 'I'm home, I say to myself; I have
arrived home; this place is home.'"
Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat
by Susan D. Moeller. Basic Books (February 1989) ASIN: 0465077773.
Where We Were in Vietnam: A Comprehensive Guide to the Firebases,
Military Installations and Naval Vessels of the Vietnam War, 1945-1975
by Michael P. Kell. Hellgate Press (June 2002) ISBN: 1555716253.
||Full Metal Jacket:
The first half of this film by Stanley Kubrick was filmed at USMC
Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC. When this ex-marine first saw the
boot camp scenes he got the sweats. They were just to real. The
second half of the film is set in DaNang and Hue, Vietnam during
Tet 1968. This photographer didn't have this kind of experience
but I'm sure many of you did. Movie is based on the novel The
Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford. Screenplay by Kubrick, Hasford
and Micheal Kerr. Kerr wrote Dispatches
which is listed above.
War Photographer: James Nachtwey
travels the world looking for grief and conflict. He has no trouble
finding it. One of the best and smartest photographers working
today James was selected for this documentry because of his experience
and ability. You want to try your eye at being a combat photographer
then see this film first.
Though not a documentry involving Vietnam
it deals with the problems and risks all photographers go through
no matter what war.
Photograph War? by James Nachtwey. This short commentary
is at the web site for the documentry.
Vietnam's Unseen War - Pictures from the Other Side (2002):
Director: Jeff Myrow, Ed Spiegel (II). As the book was being
edited, a four-person TV crew from National Geographic came to Vietnam
in early 2001 to shoot a one-hour documentary based on the same
photographers featured in the book. We returned to the locations
of their wartime images and memories, met with villagers who had
been their subjects during the war, and conducted in-depth interviews
with the Vietnamese photographers. Like the book, the video documentary
shows the experience of the Vietnam war through the eyes of the
photographers on the "Other Side".
Or visit the web
site for this project.
Vietnam In The Year of The Pig:
Directed and Produced by Emile de Antonio. Photography by John
F. Newman. (1968) From the French involvement in Vietnam to the
U.S. escalation, Vietnam In The Year of The Pig offers
us a thought provoking excursion through that country and the
brutality of war. Description from the video's jacket.