Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Eddie Adams (photographer)
Eddie was known for taking portraits of celebrities and politicians. As a photojournalist, he covered thirteen wars.
It was while covering the Vietnam War for Associated Press that he took his most famous photograph: the picture of police chief General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyen Van Lem, on a Saigon street, in February 1, 1968.
Nguyen Van Lem, a Captain of a Viet Cong assassination and revenge platoon and his men had just finished executing the wives, children and relatives of South Vietnamese police officers. Thirty-four bound and murdered civilians were found in one ditch. He was allegedly proud of having done this and boastful of his commitment to the Communists' goals and successfully completing his orders to liquidate all persons on his assignment lists.
Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for the picture, but would later lament its notoriety.
On Nguyen Ngoc Loan and his famous photograph, Eddie Adams wrote in Time Magazine: "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths."
"What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?'"
He later apologised in person to General Loan and his family for the irretrievable damage it did to his honor when he was alive. When General Loan died, he praised him as a hero of a just cause.
Adams remarked that he would have rather been known more for the series of photographs he shot of 48 Vietnamese refugees who managed to sail to Thailand in a 30ft boat, only to be towed back to the open seas by Thai marines. The photographs, and accompanying reports, helped persuade then President Jimmy Carter to grant the nearly 200,000 Vietnames boat people asylum. Adams remarked that "It did some good and nobody got hurt."
- Voice autobiography of execution by Photographer Eddie Admas
- Footage of Nguyen Van Lem's execution. Warning: Very graphic material.
- Eddie Adams obituary
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