*Starred Review* Burrows was the only photographer allowed to take the doors off a fighter-bomber so he could lean out to snap some of his most extraordinary images of the Vietnam War. When other photojournalists objected because they were denied the same favor, the Vietnamese army told them, "Mr. Burrows's request was granted not because he is a photographer but because he is an artist." To page slowly and inevitably gravely through Burrows' Vietnam work is to agree wholeheartedly: he was an artist. In Vietnam from 1962 until he disappeared in February 1971 (surely killed when the helicopter he was in crashed, though definitive remains haven't been found), the Life staff photographer regarded the war as his greatest professional opportunity. His assignment to create photo-essays necessitated staying at the front longer than daily news lensers could; they needed good single images, while he crafted series. Storytelling was his forte, as his younger Vietnam colleague David Halberstam maintains in his awed introduction, and he had a master craftsman's gift for deciding whether a photo would look best in black and white or color. The most powerful work here is in black and white. "One Ride with Yankee Papa 13," which follows a 21-year-old helicopter gunner's first encounter with heavy enemy fire, can't be scanned without being overwhelmed by pity and terror; it may be the greatest photo-essay ever made. Ray Olson
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From the Inside Flap
In the heat of battle, in the devastated countryside, among troops and civilians equally hurt by the
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savagery of war, Larry Burrows photographed the conflict in Vietnam from 1962, the earliest days of American involvement, until 1971, when he died in a helicopter shot down on the Vietnam?Laos border. His images, published in Life magazine, brought the war home, scorching the consciousness of the public and inspiring much of the anti-war sentiment that convulsed American society in the 1960s.
To see these photo essays today, gathered in one volume and augmented by unpublished images from the Burrows archive, is to experience (or to relive), with extraordinary immediacy, both the war itself and the effect and range of Larry Burrows?s gifts?his courage: to shoot ?The Air War,? he strapped himself and his camera to the open doorway of a plane . . . his reporter?s instinct: accompanying the mission of the helicopter Yankee Papa 13, he captured the transformation of a young marine crew chief experiencing the death of fellow marines . . . and his compassion: in ?Operation Prairie? and ?A Degree of Disillusion? he published profoundly affecting images of exhausted, bloodied troops and maimed Vietnamese children, both wounded, physically and psychologically, by the ever-escalating war.
The photographs Larry Burrows took in Vietnam, magnificently reproduced in this volume, are brutal, poignant, and utterly truthful, a stunning example of photojournalism that recorded history and achieved the level of great art. Indeed, in retrospect, says David Halberstam in his moving introduction, ?Larry Burrows was as much historian as photographer and artist. Because of his work, generations born long after he died will be able to witness and understand and feel the terrible events he recorded. This book is his last testament.?
With 150 illustrations, 100 in full color