In Under Fire, one of the most daring combat photographers of the Vietnam War, Catherine Leroy, pairs her work and that of other acclaimed photographers-–among them Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, and Don McCullin–with moving, evocative essays from an equally stellar roster of writers, including David Halberstam, Philip Caputo, Neil Sheehan, and Tim O’Brien.
Captured in the collected photographs is the full emotional spectrum of war. Through the camera’s eye, we see the war from both the combatants’ perspective and that of the Vietnamese civilians, for whom the conflict was a constant and horrendous backdrop. Some of the photographs are well known, verging on the iconic, others are less well circulated but no less evocative. All make indelible impressions on the viewer–perhaps more so now than when they were taken, thirty to fifty years ago.
The essays accompanying the photographs tell us about what happened to the photos’ subjects, both when the shutter captured them and since; about the challenges facing the photographers in the heat of battle; and how, in some cases, the photographers changed history by bringing Vietnam’s senseless violence to ordinary Americans’ doorsteps, thereby helping turn public opinion against the war.
Published to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Under Fire is a potent, often poignant reminder of the men and women whose work helped forge the collective memory of a generation.
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Catherine Leroy was twenty-one years old when she set out from her native France to Vietnam in 1966. In less than two years, her intrepid reporting made her one of the war’s most published photographers. In 1967, she became the only journalist to partake in a combat jump. Later she was wounded with a marine unit in the DMZ. Leroy was captured by the North Vietnamese Army during the Tet offensive but managed to talk her way free. Leroy has won numerous photography prizes for her work in Vietnam and elsewhere, including the Robert Capa Award, of which she was the first female recipient, and the George Polk Award. Her latest project involves a series of Internet articles and photo exhibits on the war. She currently lives in California.From Publishers Weekly:
One of the few positive legacies of the war in Vietnam is that it spawned a notable and highly accomplished group of American novelists, journalists and photographers, many of them veterans of that divisive conflict. Leroy, one of the most accomplished of Vietnam War photographers, pairs poignant, insightful, brief essays with groupings of evocative war photos. All are from the cream of the crop: writers include Tim O'Brien, Philip Caputo, Wayne Karlin and Neil Sheehan; among the photojournalists are Larry Burrows, Tim Page, Henri Huet, Nick Ut, Dana Stone and Dick Swenson. The result is a powerful visual and verbal record of the war, most often on the ground from the American fighting man's point of view. Many of the essays appeared with individual photos in a series of articles that appeared in recent years in the VVA Veteran, the newspaper published by Vietnam Veterans of America. "What the series of photographs reveals [about American soldiers] is a great and contradictory truth about war," Karlin observes. "It's obscene and it's noble. Its obscenity grows from their nobility, from the waste of so many who would and did give so much." (Apr. 26)
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