MANCHESTER, N.H. — Television made Vietnam “the living-room war”: the first military conflict seen in people’s homes. That decade-long stream of images on the nightly news became its own environment, a visual texture, all dank greens and muddy browns. The flood of pixels was at once barely mediated (hence its enormous political impact) and all but undifferentiated (hence its capacity to numb).
For mediation and differentiation, one looked elsewhere, to the discrete images provided by such gifted photojournalists as Larry Burrows, Don McCullin, Eddie Adams, Horst Faas, Henri Huet, Nick Ut. All of them have photographs in “Visual Dispatches From the Vietnam War.” It runs at the Currier Museum of Art through Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
Half a century later, it’s their work that conveys an unmatched reality and poignance. There have been superb books about the war (Michael Herr’s “Dispatches,” Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”), and at least one great movie (“Apocalypse Now”). But both prose and film have emphasized the war’s unreality: its nightmare surrealism. Nothing continues to bring home the awful actuality of Vietnam as the work of these photojournalists does… Read more