The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the Picture : The Remarkable Story of Vietnam's Most Famous Casualty

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Description

On 8 June 1972, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by napalm, ran from her burning village and into the eye of history. Her photograph, seen around the world, helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War and is one of a handful of images that remain branded in the public consciousness. This book is the story of how that photograph came to be - but also of what happened to Kim Phuc after it was taken. It opens up to readers an unknown world - the world of Vietnam after the US army left. Kim became a pawn in the Communist regime's propaganda campaign, even as her own family fought a losing battle to support itself in a physically and economically devastated country, now plagued with corruption. Kim's recovery and rehabilitation from her terrible wounds was long and arduous and, after years of manipulation by Vietnamese officials, she made a dramatic escape to Canada, where she now lives. Denise Chong has written a detailed, humanistic account of everyday life in the wake of the Vietnam War, as well as a meditation on the aftermath of celebrity, and the power of an image.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 26mm | 258.55g
  • SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New ed.
  • b&w illustrations
  • 0743207033
  • 9780743207034
  • 61,743

About Denise Chong

DENISE CHONG is the author of the spellbinding memoir THE CONCUBINE'S CHILDREN: PORTRAIT OF A FAMILY DIVIDED. This book won numerous awards and was on the Canadian bestseller list for 100 weeks. Denise lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children. KIM PHUC is now happily married with two children and lives in Ajax, Canada. She is a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO to 'spread the message of the need for reconciliation, mutual understanding, dialogue and negotiation to replace confrontation and violence'. She is also the founder of the Chicago-based Kim Phuc Foundation to help child victims of war.

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Review Text

One of the most famous photographs of the 20th century was taken in Vietnam by a photographer called Huynh Cong Ut - Nick Ut. It shows a nine-year old girl, Kim Phuc, naked and terribly burned by napalm after South Vietnamese pilots mistakenly bombed an innocent village. The picture went round the world in 24 hours, racking the conscience of the Western powers who supported the US action in Vietnam; it played a considerable part in America's withdrawal from the war and the consequent 'victory' of the Communists, who immediately began using Kim for propaganda purposes. This book is her personal story, recording her battle for survival, suffering 'the most intense pain known to human beings' as her burns were treated - pain which continued as she started studying to be a doctor. But the authorities had other plans, refusing to allow her to continue her studies (though she was encouraged to continue at university to study the greatness of Ho Chi Minh and the Communists' 'final great patriotic victory'). She was called to give interviews to the world press in support of the regime, an 'adviser' always at her side to prompt the right replies. After some years she was sent to Cuba, where her enforced propaganda interviews continued, and where diabetes developed to add to her physical difficulties. She was forced to refuse invitations to North America, for fear she might defect; but after her marriage to Toan (a rather shadowy figure in the story) she managed to escape from their honeymoon in Moscow to Canada, where she has settled - and where, at a rally, she met the pilot who had bombed her, now a Methodist minister; they fell into each others' arms. This is a curious, racking, inspiring and terrible story, told with tact and with great ingenuity in teasing information from a Vietnamese society still bent on concealing much of its recent history. (Kirkus UK)

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