The Vietnam War is still fresh in the minds of the countless number people who fought in it. For the many of us who are too young to remember the horror of the deadly war however, photographs and films are the only way we can truly understand what happened all those years ago. Of all the famous images from the war, the majority were taken by western photographers and news outlets, meaning we’re left with a very one-sided view of the war itself. They say history is written by the winners, but in this case, it’s the losing side that seems to have the monopoly on our memories of war.
The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had hundreds of photographers who documented every dangerous and shocking aspect of the war. Most were self taught, and sent in their film anonymously or under an alias to protect their identities. As such, names, dates and details were lost from the majority of these Vietnamese photos.
In the early 1990s, photojournalists Tim Page and Doug Niven started tracking down surviving photographers in order to learn more about the unseen side of the war. Below are a small selection of what they discovered, the rest of which can be found in their book Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side.
Activists meet in the Nam Can forest, wearing masks to hide their identities from one another in case of capture and interrogation.
2. July 1967
New recruits undergo physical examinations in Haiphong.
A Viet Cong guerrilla stands guard in the Mekong Delta. The photographer explained: “You could find women like her almost everywhere during the war. She was only 24 years old but had been widowed twice. Both her husbands were soldiers. I saw her as the embodiment of the ideal guerrilla woman, who’d made great sacrifices for her country.”
The photographer was sickened by the American’s use of chemicals to destroy the landscape, since the Vietnamese regard their mangrove forests as bountiful, sacred areas.
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