Thursday 1 February 2018

an unlikely weapon

Fifty years ago today, combat photographer and journalist for the Associated Press Eddie Adams whilst on an extended assignment to cover the Vietnam War was in Saigon at the exact moment to capture the summary execution of Vietcong prisoner Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnam’s national police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan.
The widely circulated and iconic image coincided with the start of the Tết Offensive and caused many Americans to question whom their allies were in this battle and their motivations for being in it in the first place and was the impetus for burgeoning protests. Though winning a Pulitzer prize for the picture the following year, Adams did have misgivings and wondered if the brutal act was not done to play to the press and reflected on the impact the photograph had had on its subjects’ lives and was far prouder of his later work with refugees that persuaded President Jimmy Carter to grant asylum to two hundred thousand boat people. Adams’ corpus of work is archived by the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.