Agent Orange: "collateral damage" in Viet Nam

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Trolley, 2003 - History - 174 pages
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Philip Jones Griffiths, for a record five years the President of Magnum Photos, created in Vietnam, Inc. a record of the war there of almost Biblical proportions. No one who has seen it will forget its haunting images. In Agent Orange he has added a postscript that is equally unforgettable. In 1960 the United States war machine concluded that an efficient deterrent to the Viet Cong would be the devastation of the crops and forestry that afforded them both succour and cover for their operations. Initial descriptions of the scheme included "Food Denial Program," later adapted to "depriving cover for enemy troops." They gave the idea the name Operation Hades, but were advised that Operation Ranch Hand was a more suitable cognomen for PR purposes. The US had developed a herbicide for the task. It became known as Agent Orange after the colour of the canisters used to distribute it. The planes that carried the canisters had 'ONLY WE CAN PREVENT FORESTS!' as a logo on their fuselages. They were right. It was very effective. Unfortunately some of the herbicide also contained Dioxin, probably one of the world's deadliest poisons. In Agent Orange Philip Jones Griffiths has photographed the children and grandchildren of the farmers whose faces were lifted to the gentle rain of the contaminated herbicide. Theoretically and scientifically there are no proven connections between the maimed subjects of his photographs and the presence of Dioxin in Agent Orange. There are certainly suspicions, sustained by the compensation payments made by the US Government to its war victims. Historians will find it sufficient to say that there will always be collateral damage, another useful PR phrase, in war, andthat Philip Jones Griffiths should understand the consequences of martial endeavours. He most certainly does. He has catalogued here a pitiless series of photographs, and there can be no doubt that they should and will be reco

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Contents

Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, in 1936, Philip Jones Griffiths began his career as a pharmacist, but turned to photography in the early 1960s. As a free-lance photojournalist, he covered the wars in Algeria and Vietnam (his book "Vietnam Inc." was published in 1971), and in the 1970s worked in Cambodia and Thailand. Griffiths moved to New York City in 1980 to assume the post of president at the Magnum Photo agency--a position he held for a record five years. His photographs have appeared in every major magazine in the world, including "Life," "Time," "Newsweek," and "Geo."
Griffiths has also made several documentary films, on subjects ranging from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the descendants of the HMS Bounty living on Pitcairn Island. "A Welsh Eye," a film about the photographer, was shown in Britain in 1991.
Murray Sayle has written for "Encounter," "Harper's," "Life," "The New Republic," "The New Statesman," "The Spectator," "The New Yorker," "The New York Times Review of Books," "The New York Review of Books," and many other publications.