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Lost Over Laos


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About the Author

Richard Pyle covered the Vietnam War for the Associated Press for nearly five years and was bureau chief in Saigon from 1970 to 1973. Now based in New York, he covers politics and breaking news for the AP.


Combat photography is a dangerous business, as this book shows. At its heart is a helicopter crash on February 10, 1971, during the invasion of Laos by the South Vietnamese. Among those killed were four veteran photographers (Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, Kent Potter, and Keisaburo Shimamoto), but the bodies and the wreckage were never recovered from mountainous territory held by the Communists. Pyle and Faas work for the Associated Press, covered the Vietnam War together, knew the victims, and vowed to find out what happened to them. Their book recounts the adventurous histories of the four photojournalists, what it was like working in the madhouse of Indochina at war, and the fatal flight and its aftermath. After a long bureaucratic struggle, an American-Laotian recovery mission systematically excavated the site in 1998. Anthropological and forensic research at the site is detailed here, and the entire text is of course accompanied by memorable pictures. Part personal quest, part investigative reporting, and part military history, this work is suitable for all photography and Vietnam War collections. (Foreword by David Halberstam and index not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"A solid addition to the shelf of books about the Vietnam War...."

This deeply moving and personal recollection of the lives and work of the only four combat journalists killed during the 1971 U.S. invasion of Laos is an excellent short history of an important part of the Vietnam War as well as a fascinating insiders' look at the rugged life of civilian photographers during wartime. Former Saigon bureau chief Pyle (Schwarzkopf: The Man, the Mission, the Triumph) and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Faas (Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina) worked together for the Associated Press in Vietnam and were close friends with the men who died, which adds depth to their biographies: Larry Burrows, whose famous work for Life magazine made his name "the most closely identified with pictures of armed conflict in Indochina;" the Vietnamese-born Henri Huet, whose work earned the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Award; the passionate young Kent Potter, who threatened the United Press International "to resign if forced to leave the war zone;" and Keisaburo Shimamoto, a seasoned Vietnam correspondent with the "high-powered" French agency Gamma who had just returned for his third tour of Vietnam as a freelancer. Pyle provides an excellent look at the history of North Vietnam's use of Laos for its Ho Chi Minh Trail to arm its soldiers in South Vietnam, and he shows how its success provoked President Nixon's invasion of both Laos and Cambodia. Most moving is Pyle's account of how he and Faas returned to Laos 27 years later to search for-and successfully find-the wreckage of the dead journalists' helicopter, along with some of their personal and photographic effects, a journey that becomes a tribute to every journalist who covered the Vietnam War. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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