ANOTHER VIETNAM: Pictures of the War from the Other Side

Tim Page, Author, Henry Allen, Foreword by, Douglas Niven, Editor
Tim Page, Author, Henry Allen, Foreword by, Douglas Niven, Editor , edited by Doug Niven and Chris Riley. National Geographic $50 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7922-6465-1
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Few aspects of the American war in Vietnam have escaped close inspection in this country. So it is startling to see a large, coffee-table book filled with 180 black and white images of that war that have never before been published on these shores. Taken by North Vietnamese photographers, the pictures are a mixture of staged, unabashed propaganda ("I wanted my pictures to be a weapon," says photographer Mai Nam, a longtime Vietnamese Communist Party member) and evocative insights into the way the war appeared from the other side, as when National Liberation Front political leader Ut Mot is shown in an austere underground bunker, light streaming in from a tiny skylight, looking pensive and determined. Accomplished British journalist Page provides running commentary on the war, and the photographers' experiences and reminiscences, particularly those who worked with the Vietcong guerrillas in the South. The book lives up to its billing as a piece of work that will help Americans more fully understand the nation's longest and most controversial overseas war. However, the many photos of smiling North Vietnamese and Vietcong and of captured, wounded and dead South Vietnamese and Americans surely will not warm the hearts of unreconstructed hawks. (Jan.)

Forecast:An exhibit featuring more than 150 photos from the book will be held at New York City's International Center of Photography, January–March, and a documentary featuring Page's interviews will air on National Geographic Explorer on MSNBC in January. The book will appeal to the curious and the completist, but may not cross over to greater boomer-based sales.

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