Author: Dan Brookes and Bob Hillerby
Publisher: Pen & Sword, 235 pages, 360 illustrations
Published: October 2019 (Great Britain Edition)
This is an thoroughly absorbing book that brings a different perspective to the war through the eyes, or rather lens, of the combat photographer. Whilst the book is lavishly illustrated with a rich selection of photographic images, it is the text that brings many of the images alive. It was fascinating to read the story of both authors who soon after conscription found themselves together in Camp Gaynor, as part of the 69th Signal Battalion photo operation. In an alien country, far away from home, they did their duty recording the war, from base camp to combat zone. You have to respect a man who enters a combat zone armed with only a camera. The introduction by photographer, Joe Galloway describes his worst day of his life in one of the bloodiest battles of the war when he found himself surrounded in Landing Zone XRay in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965, the story of which is told the book and film, We Were Soldiers Once. Bob Hillerby witnessed similar battles attached to the 1st Cavalry Division in and around An Khe, an experience that made him an adrenaline junky eager for the next mission. He was decorated with the Air Medal (unique to a photographer) for gallantry and went on to accompany over 100 air assaults, many more than the average trooper. Dan Brookes took a different path and became a lab rat back in Camp Gaynor and worked tirelessly processing the mass of images that passed through the unit. The base being no less dangerous and on one occasion attacked by the Viet Cong in late 1966. The book weaves in other stories and talks of the increasing casualties, and how US Army atrocities at My Lai and the Phoenix Project quickly changed public support and brought this unpopular conflict to a close.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone with not only an interest in the Vietnam war, but an interest in combat photography.
Purchase via P&S: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Shooting-Vietnam-Hardback/p/16417