The Girl in the Picture

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

By (author) Denise Chong

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Kim Phuc was nine years old in 1972. Severely burned by napalm, she ran from her burning village and was captured on film. Denise Chong relates Kim's experience and recovery in this astonishing biography and history of America's shameful war. The photograph of Kim, seen around the world, was one of many to turn public opinion against the war in Vietnam. This is the story of how the picture came to be and also what happened to Kim after it was taken. It provides an insight into the country Vietnam became after the US army left, and explains why Kim finally had to flee to Canada, where she now lives.

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  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 26mm | 258.55g
  • 04 Jun 2001
  • Simon & Schuster Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • b&w illustrations
  • 0743207033
  • 9780743207034
  • 45,419

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Author Information

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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