Vietnam at war

First published in 1971, Vietnam Inc. played a crucial part in changing public attitudes in the United States, turning the tide of opinion and ultimately helping to put an end to the Vietnam War. Philip Jones Griffiths’ classic account of the war was the outcome of years of intensive reporting and is one of the most detailed surveys of any conflict in twentieth-century history. Showing us the true horrors of the war as well as a study of Vietnamese rural life, the photographer and author creates a compelling argument against the de-humanizing power of the modern war machine and American imperialism. Rare and highly sought-after, Vietnam Inc. became one of the enduring classics of photojournalism.

His portraits of soldiers in action or, as often, at ease, have an insider’s conviction. The result is a work of extremes in which horror alternates with humanity: the soldiers on the point of raping a Vietnamese girl or the wounded civilian so swathed in bandages her identification is reduced to a label reading “VNC female”. Griffiths had an enduring sense of compassion for the Vietnamese people and their land, but also for the U.S troops, particularly those individuals who had been drafted. The real ‘bad guys’ are rarely the people with their boots on the ground.

Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I decided to be the one to show what was really going on in Vietnam. Here was something of profound importance.

Philip Jones Griffiths