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Lost Over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship Hardcover – March 18, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Printing edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306811960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306811968
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,453,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This deeply moving and personal recollection of the lives and work of the only four combat journalists killed during the 1971 U.S. invasion of Laos is an excellent short history of an important part of the Vietnam War as well as a fascinating insiders' look at the rugged life of civilian photographers during wartime. Former Saigon bureau chief Pyle (Schwarzkopf: The Man, the Mission, the Triumph) and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Faas (Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina) worked together for the Associated Press in Vietnam and were close friends with the men who died, which adds depth to their biographies: Larry Burrows, whose famous work for Life magazine made his name "the most closely identified with pictures of armed conflict in Indochina;" the Vietnamese-born Henri Huet, whose work earned the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Award; the passionate young Kent Potter, who threatened the United Press International "to resign if forced to leave the war zone;" and Keisaburo Shimamoto, a seasoned Vietnam correspondent with the "high-powered" French agency Gamma who had just returned for his third tour of Vietnam as a freelancer. Pyle provides an excellent look at the history of North Vietnam's use of Laos for its Ho Chi Minh Trail to arm its soldiers in South Vietnam, and he shows how its success provoked President Nixon's invasion of both Laos and Cambodia. Most moving is Pyle's account of how he and Faas returned to Laos 27 years later to search for-and successfully find-the wreckage of the dead journalists' helicopter, along with some of their personal and photographic effects, a journey that becomes a tribute to every journalist who covered the Vietnam War.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Two journalists who survived their years covering the Vietnam War recount the tragic end of four who did not: Larry Burrows of Life, Henri Huet of the Associated Press, Kent Potter of United Press International, and Keisaburo Shimamoto of Newsweek. All of these photojournalists died in February 1971 when the Huey helicopter carrying them into Laos was shot down by North Vietnamese gunners. A taut narrative (by Pyle) combines with haunting photographs (taken and selected by Faas) to tell two stories: the first of how four brave men lost their lives in pursuing their hazardous profession, the second of how Pyle and Faas painstakingly pieced together the fragmentary information that has surfaced over the years about their colleagues' deaths. The first story exposes the inscrutable twists in the line separating life from death; the second highlights how patient investigators slowly accumulate clues as to the four men's deaths. A work of homage by journalists who have learned far more from their profession than how to beat a competitor to the newsroom. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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The story is straightforward, as one might expect from wire service veterans, but it is also poignant.
Peter Mattiace
In today's news of Afghanistan and Iraq...sometime we forget the 58,000 US lives lost in Vietnam and over 250,000 wounded with life changing dire circumstances.
05/11A
Lost Over Laos is a powerful and poignant narration, and especially recommended reading for students of journalism.
Midwest Book Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Todd Gates on August 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For those of us born too late to be part of the generation that was, in the words of Richard Pyle, "educated, molded, and aged by the Vietnam experience," our second-hand knowledge of this war has been limited largely to the negative: the horrors of the battlefield, the mental anguish of the young soldiers being asked to sacrifice their lives for goals that were far from clear, and the deeply divisive debates over the agony of continued warfare vs. the humiliation of abandoning the cause. Yet this book is about journalists who VOLUNTEERED to go into the jungle. What would make an otherwise sane person want to do this? As Pyle explores the lives and deaths of the four killed photojournalists, various answers to this question surface, making the journalist's motives comprehensible even to outsiders such as myself--the lure of the exotic setting, the sense of regret that one might have felt if excluded from the most important event of the decade, and the sense of obligation to "compel the world to see Vietnam," to see it "through a camera lens that illuminated, explained, told truths of what the war looked like and how it felt to be there." As for coping with the drawbacks of death and dismemberment, there was always denial. As Richard writes: "It was part of the war correspondent psyche to recognize the possibility of the worst, but to worry or even think much about that was to invite oneself to look for work in another field"; and "there was a sense among members of the Saigon media that journalists who reached celebrity status through repeated stellar performance could become exempt from ordinary danger, passing into a realm of immunity where the worst simply could not happen to them--as if North Vietnamese gunners tracking a helicopter would receive a last-second order: 'Don't shoot.Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Jenkins on April 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book describes the world of photojournalists in the Vietnam work and focuses on the death of four photojournalists in a battle over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos during a the US government's semi-covert war against the North Vietnamese in that country (the pilots of their aircraft were South Vietnamese and their death occurred during a South Vietnamese attack against NVA supply lines). The book also describes the effort to find their remains and the authors' attempt to give meaning to their loss. The photojournalists who died included two of the most celebrated of the war and two younger men of great skill. In a relatively short text, the book manages to tell their stories and the story of Vietnam War photojournalism in a manner that is reverent without being professionally aggrandizing. By coincidence, I visited the village where the search for remains took place a few months before the authors and their time in that place was particularly evocative for me. The authors offer a perspective on the war that is complex and, in some ways, more hawkish than other first-hand retrospective war accounts, although too skeptical to really fit the conceptualizations of hawk and dove that characterized the times. Given the many parallels that some have drawn between Vietnam and our own era, this is a book that thoughtful critics and partisans of the Iraqi conflict should read. My only complaint is that book does not include enough of the award winning pictures of Larry Burrows and his fallen colleagues.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Collaboratively written by foreign correspondent Richard Pyle and Associated Press photographer and photo editor Horst Faas, Lost Over Laos: A True Story Of Tragedy, Mystery, And Friendship is an historical and memorial testimony showcasing four combat photographers who died in Indochina: Larry Burrows of "Life" magazine; Henri Huet of the Associated Press; Kent Potter of United Press International; and Keisaburo Shimamoto of "Newsweek". Twenty seven years later, a recovery team was able to visit the site of the helicopter crash that took the lives of these remarkable men, recover evidence, and bring closure to the tragedy. Lost Over Laos is a powerful and poignant narration, and especially recommended reading for students of journalism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tulsa reader on December 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I throughly enjoyed this book. I love history and this book gave a good insight into the press of Saigon including their risks and misfortunes. I enjoyed reading about the relationships developed at a personal level between the press core and the military. I would highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rl davidson on March 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Vietnam veteran I always admired the 'guts' of these guys. More importantly, there contribution through photographs keeps the Vietnam Was in perspective in the 21st Century. I was saddened to hear that Faas had died last year.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the hardest combat deaths to take in all the reporters and photographers to died in 'Nam: Larry Burrows and Henri Huet were two of the gentlemen of the war, the likes of whom may never be seen again..
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