Item description for Philip Jones Griffiths: Vietnam At Peace by Philip Jones Griffiths John Pilger...
Description: Viet Nam at Peace is the monumental chronicle of a country struggling to emerge from the apocalyptic destruction of war--a destruction so seismic that many thought (vainly) that it would end all contemporary imperial aggression. Philip Jones Griffiths has visited VietNam 25 times since the end of the war. The first Westerner to travel by road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City after the war, and later the Ho Chi Minh trail, he has amassed an unparalleled photographic record of the post-war transformation of the country. Featuring 300 black and white images, Viet Nam at Peace chronicles not only the country's shattered terrain, but also the destruction of its citizens' culture, minds, hearts, and hopes. Limbless heroes, Amerasian children, and boat people are shown here alongside horrific attempts by the Vietnamese to curb the hydra of today's increasing consumerist excesses. From the first days of terrible hardships, as joys of victory were quickly tempered by the reality of the extent of the destruction, to today's re-emergence of social problems like prostitution and drug addiction, Griffiths paints a comprehensive and complex portrait of a society forever marked by the brutality of war.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 13.2" Width: 9.8" Height: 1.3" Weight: 5.7 lbs.
Release Date Apr 15, 2005
ISBN 1904563384 ISBN13 9781904563389
Reviews - What do customers think about Philip Jones Griffiths: Vietnam At Peace?
Epoch Trilogy Apr 11, 2006
Viet Nam at Peace. This is the final volume in Philip Jones Griffiths' epoch trilogy on Viet Nam spanning forty years. His classic Vietnam, Inc (1971) and Agent Orange (2003) focus on war and its consequences. Here, we are given penetrating glimpses of a society coping with war trauma and getting on with life that demonstrate the care and skill of a renowned photographer who has sustained a sharp and luminous focus on a single society. His work is an object lesson to the packs of photo-journalists who flit from one disaster to the next, hit-and-run specialists who market images short on empathy and understanding of the moments in time they capture.
John Pilger, who also first arrived in Vietnam in 1966, writes of the, "Goya-like faces and the subversive quality of each image." Griffiths, he remarks, portrays "Viet Nam as a country, not a war."
The photos in this lavishly produced volume are presented in fifteen sections with brief introductions and captions. The legacies of war loom large, but Griffiths helps us get inside society and its ongoing problems and transformations. Certainly, the war's devastating toll, claiming the lives of 5 million Vietnamese, and the US refusal to honor its promise of reconstruction aid, compounded by spiteful sanctions, has indelibly scarred the people and hampered development.
We encounter the deformed babies affected by Agent Orange, faces scarred by napalm, wheelchair bound vets and amputees. And there are children, so many children from the postwar baby boom going to ramshackle schools that feature grim classrooms and playgrounds scarred with trenches.
Among the images of the boat people there is a haunting photo of a woman surrounded by her children in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, staring off with a sad dignity amidst cramped squalor. Life was miserable in these detention centers as the world turned its back on the exodus of those who had aligned themselves with the losing cause of the US.
Truth is the first casualty of war and is now being perpetuated, Griffiths tells us, in Vietnam's war museums that cater to tourists by sanitizing the horrors endured. He asserts that younger Vietnamese are now challenging this reconciliation-first history propagated by their elders, the beginning of a revision process that is shedding a harsher light on US involvement and negligence.
There is a rich montage of everyday Vietnamese at weddings, funerals, attending religious ceremonies, working their fields and resting from their labors. Some of the most beautiful images portray life along the waterways, people fishing, rowing, poling, swimming and raising families on houseboats. We are taken beyond the tourist snaps of the majestic Ha Long Bay, seeing the gritty faced miners who work nearby, loading barges with coal laden straw baskets they carry on their heads.
Worlds away, the impact of globalization is evident in urban centers where slick billboards loom above ramshackle waterfront huts and deface office blocks. In a culture that prizes austerity and silence, designer goods and mobile phones have become ubiquitous accoutrements. Griffiths laments a spreading mass consumerism he satirizes in its sheer tastelessness and excess. As elsewhere, the poor gain naught from this "good life", their abject conditions a telling rebuke. Here we see them gazing upon what they are excluded from and there is no averting our gaze from the stark contrast that prevails and the misery of those who have been left behind.
In depicting the children of the "victors" working in multinational sneaker factories, modeling swimsuits, selling brand name goods and embracing capitalism, Griffiths puts us in the shoes of the veterans whose minds must boggle at the resounding ironies. The book closes, appropriately, where the trilogy began, with US Marines landing in Danang, but now coming without hostile intentions, making a beeline for the nearest bar.
War Corrupts Us All Oct 26, 2005
Mr Griffiths has taken some of the most critical photographs of the Vietnam War...from an anti-war or anti-American bias. It is hard to tell from his books. While I admire him and Don McCullum among war photographers I find some faults in his writing or discriptions or choice of subject matter. For instance he never seemed to be on the spot where the VC or NVA cut the arms, hands, legs and feet from the Vietnamese children as a lesson to govenment supporting Ville's. Or the rows of male heads put on stakes around a village as a deterent or some such reason. He also made a trip to Pinkville in this book and refered to a well know instance of "murder" as he phrases it with no footnotes as to the why of it. He also makes judgments about the famous Eddie Adams photograph. He must have been somewhere else when the VC were doing the some thing. I don't need photographs from this individual...I have my own. I wonder if he took the time to interview South Vietnamese put into internment camps or investigated Hanoi's violation of the Peace Agreement. Has anyone any evidence of a War that was fought fairly by any side?. Well...the war is over, so to speak and he does know how to take a picture. Therefore two stubby thumbs up.
Peace at war with itself Sep 16, 2005
Philip Jones Griffiths is one of those rare "non hot-dog" witnesses to war who a) appreciates the horror and b)can textually put into context the horrors which he has recorded. In his "Vietnam Inc", he was perhaps the first major participant in VN journalism to show the underside of American "protection". With his writings on the terrors of Agent Orange,he could implicate, with words and pictures the American equivalent of Saddam's own chemical warfare. So despite the rather saccharine title, "Vietnam At Peace", Griffiths has managed to illustrate with over 300 pictures and with well chosen (often ironic) words that "peace" in Vietnam is something like "democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Votes do not guarantee progress, peace may mean-----in Vietnam-----that a vital but fragile culture has come to an end. The end started with the French, was almost finished with the Vietnam War, but as Griffiths shows, the longing for economic viability has led to the loss of soul. Yes, as Griffiths shows so well, peace is an infinite improvement of war. But as he also shows, the New Materialism (as opposted to Ho's dialectical materialism) has led to infinite contradictions, exploitations, questions, and should debates on this newest example of "internationalism". Nobody can do it better than Griffiths, who, after half a century of showing terror under the IRA, Africa and Asia in his lensfinder, here finds a more slippery subject. No simple summing-up, no solutions are offered, and some readers might find Vietnam's progress superficially inspiring. Griffiths, though, sees the skull beneath the noisy, raucous, diesel-choked skin.