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Malcolm Browne, 1931-2012
August 28, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Malcolm Browne, the war correspondent who took one of the most iconic and disturbing photographs of the Vietnam conflict, has died. He was 81.

Browne was working as a reporter for the Associated Press in Saigon in 1963 when his office received word that something "very important" would happen at a street intersection the next day. When Browne arrived at the appointed time, he saw Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc douse himself with jet fuel and light himself ablaze in a protest against the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam. Browne, the only Western journalist present, took pictures of the immolation.

Browne's image was published around the globe and for many served as the first warning that things in South Vietnam were worse than either Saigon or Washington would admit. Browne's reporting was often criticized by American officials, and at one contentious press conference an Army officer asked Browne, "why don't you get on the team?" Despite (or because of) the controversial nature of his reporting, Browne (with David Halberstam) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of Vietnam. He later wrote a memoir, Muddy Boots and Red Socks, in which he reflected on his career, dispensed advice for aspiring journalists, and discussed his familial connection to Oscar Wilde.
posted by Rangeboy (18 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rest in peace
posted by CRESTA at 7:34 AM on August 28, 2012


Correction: It was Admiral Harry Felt, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and not an Army officer who made the "team" comment to Browne.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:38 AM on August 28, 2012


Yet it took us over 10 years to finally get out of Vietnam.
posted by tommasz at 7:43 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


A colorized version of burning Monk Thích Quảng Đức
posted by hubs at 8:03 AM on August 28, 2012


Yet it took us over 10 years to finally get out of Vietnam.

Yeah Freedom.

After Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze, it took less than one month for the dictator in Tunisia to peacefully (more or less) step down.
posted by three blind mice at 8:04 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite (or because of) the controversial nature of his reporting, Browne (with David Halberstam) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of Vietnam.

"Because of". They didn't hand out Pulitzers to DOD shills back then.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:31 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


A colorized version...

Because history is better in cartoon form, complete with American-style white-on-green roadsigns and a nicely inoffensive postcard-blue sky. Hell, why not just photoshop a Fantastic Four logo on his chest while we're at it?
posted by oulipian at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


RIP
posted by mule98J at 8:44 AM on August 28, 2012


And so it goes, 2012 version. There is a youtube video of this which is too horrible to post here.
posted by Xurando at 9:14 AM on August 28, 2012


That car in the background is on display at a little monastery in Hue central Vietnam. The monk drove it to the site of the immolation.

It's displayed in the way that makes it far more poignant, understated and semi neglected.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2012


Because history is better in cartoon form, complete with American-style white-on-green roadsigns and a nicely inoffensive postcard-blue sky. Hell, why not just photoshop a Fantastic Four logo on his chest while we're at it?

oulipian, you're right that the road sign was most likely not green. But the Photoshop colorization was done by an amateur Swede, not an American. You should also note that the Vietnamese decided to hang a colorized (or cartoonish, as you expressed) version of the image in the monastery that houses the car.

Additionally, what do you think of the monument erected by Members of the Buddhist Church near the sight? Too much superhero for you?
posted by hubs at 9:47 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Malcolm Browne was a photojournalist. Amateurishly colourizing his photo belittles its historical and photojournalistic value, not to mention the severity of the incident. It's an interesting exercise in photomanipulation, but it seems inappropriate in a thread about Browne's death.

The monastery display and the commemorative statue serve different purposes - they are not intended as photojournalism. The statue is kind of cool!
posted by oulipian at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2012


.
posted by bearwife at 11:27 AM on August 28, 2012


Tibetan teenagers set themselves on fire in China: Latest deaths in protests at Chinese rule take to 51 the number of self-immolations since 2009, says rights group
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw that photoshop job when it first hit reddit. Colorizing that historical photo is just plain evil. I cannot imagine why anyone would think this photo would be improved by colorization.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:40 PM on August 28, 2012


Looking at that picture literally took my breath away, and obviously not in a good way. Self immolation is a hard subject for me to grasp, and I'm still not sure if I agree with it. A couple years ago a close friend and I got into a very heated argument about whether it could be considered a form of nonviolent protest. We ended up having to just drop it and not talk for a week.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:00 PM on August 28, 2012


Back in the day of real reporters...

That picture, in conjunction with the photo of Kim Phuc shook me deeply at the time. Seeing this one again reinforces my belief that what we did in Vietnam was evil.


.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:08 PM on August 28, 2012


Oh wow.
I still can't look at pictures like these.

.
posted by Mezentian at 10:12 PM on August 28, 2012


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