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Larry Burrows: Vietnam Hardcover – October 22, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Inside Flap

In the heat of battle, in the devastated countryside, among troops and civilians equally hurt by the
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To see these photo essays today, gathered in one volume and augmented by unpublished images from the Burrows archive, is to experience (or to relive), with extraordinary immediacy, both the war itself and the effect and range of Larry Burrows?s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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037541102X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375411021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1.1 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Larry Burrows is perhaps one of the most underappreciated photojournalists of the 20th century. As a photographer for Life magazine in the 1960s, his images helped bring home to America the conflict in Vietnam, and Burrows' photographs showed a powerful sense of humanity, dignity, and even beauty that few 'war' photographers, before or since, have captured in their images. Burrows was able to see beyond the guns and the gore to bring back images that captured the human side of the conflict, and its effects on those caught in it. It's truly history's loss that Burrows was tragically killed in a missile attack in 1971, while covering the conflict he had been so drawn to.
Almost as tragic was the fact that for over 30 years, the images of this great photographer were obscure and nearly inaccessible: a retrospective ('Larry Burrows: Compassionate Photographer') was published shortly after his death, but second-hand copies of it are few, difficult to find, and expensive. A selection of his photographs was included in Horst Faas and Tim Page's 'Requiem', but otherwise no volume of Burrows' work has existed until now.
This book is an excellent and extensive collection of Larry Burrows' Vietnam War images, from his first reportage in 1962 (when the American presence was a small number of 'advisers') to shortly before his death in 1971 at the height of the war. It draws not only from his many published essays in Life, but also from the archive of his unpublished (and hence never-before-seen) works as well.
In short, it's a thorough, well-done book, the sort of treatment that Burrows' photographs have long deserved. Much more than a mere coffee-table book, it's the testament of one of history's great photojournalists.
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Format: Hardcover
The First Air Cav, along with Burrows and a group of other reporters, was dropped into the hills around the Marine's Combat Base in the Khe Sahn valley. The brass, all the way up to LBJ, were convinced that there were 30,000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) heard core, well armed and trained regulars surrounding that belegered outpost. The photographers/reporters were in the same bullseye that we were. We all were surprised that the rockets that were roaring in on our firebase didn't seem to phase them in the least. They said that "I can't get any pictures hiding in a hole!" so they didn't start digging their's until just before the sun disappeared.

This book is from one of the bravest and most driven men that I have ever met-- and he inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a photo pro. He had been kissing his wife goodbye in Hong Kong since the start of the insanity and said to me over a warm beer that he hoped he'd live to see the day when he'd cover the closing ceremonies when the war ended. He went down in Laos in a Vietnamese helicopter long before that day came.

His body of work that we are left with is nothing less then perfection but to him they were just his "Normal images", some of which he liked better then others. (He saw himself as a storyteller.)I see them as cutting through the clutter of information overload that is our daily challange and the photographs remain the icons of the era. The sensitivity and empathy that was his 'eye' and style allowed his cameras to give us stories that are nothing less then high art. This was evident even to hard boiled Marine Generals who allowed him access to places that no other media person was ever shown. He instilled trust that was all.
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Format: Hardcover
The Vietnam war was defined as the first total media war, television was in the ascendancy but it was through newspapers and magazines that most people got there view of the suffering. The three greatest war photographers of all time (Robert Capa is the forth) brought the war to the breakfast tables of the world, Phillip Jones Griffiths, Donald McCullin and Larry Burrows produced pictures which showed the true horror and futility of the Vietnam conflict. McCullin through the pages of the Sunday Times Magazine, Jones Griffiths with his book "Vietnam Inc" and Burrows in the pages of "Life" magazine. Larry Burrows was given the massive task of showing the war in colour. Colour was regarded as being too pretty for the hard hitting task of showing war, also the actual technical limitations of the colour film of the time made Burrows task even more difficult. The sensitivity was very slow and getting the exposure absolutely spot on was imperitive. The steadyness and consideration needed to get the pictures are not condusive to the nerves in the midst of combat but Burrows had the metal to get the job done. This book brings together his work from 1963 till his death in 1971 in a way that shows not only his skill as a photographer but also as a journalist who could visualise the images and create the difinitive "picture story" The reproduction and layout are excellent and to see the images virtually as they would have appeared in Life are a credit to Larry's son Russell. This is a must for anyone interested in photography and photojournalism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thirty years later, I am forever seeking gateways of memory that have the power to evoke what has come to be termed the Vietnam era. Oh, how this country has forgotten what it is like to actually live in the grip of phantasmagoric violence perpetrated on an ever-escalating scale. Larry Burrow's, Vietnam will take you back into the time, the landscape of battle, and the soul of the people destined to play it all out. You will weep turning the pages. I certainly did.
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