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APBrowne is pictured in 1965 while working as a correspondent for the Associated Press in Saigon, South Vietnam.
Malcolm Browne was a first-rate reporter who spent decades at The New York Times, covered wars around the world and won the Pulitzer Prize for his writing about the early days of the Vietnam war.
yet he will forever be remembered for one famous picture, the 1963
photo of a Buddhist monk who calmly set himself on fire on the streets
of Saigon to protest against the South Vietnamese government, which was
being supported by the U.S.
In a war
that would produce many shocks to the American public, Browne's photo
was one of the first and remains an iconic image of the war a
Browne, 81, died Monday at a New Hampshire hospital. He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease in recent years.
went to Vietnam as a young reporter for the AP when the war was in its
early stages, a small conflict well below the radar for most Americans.
Malcome Browne took this iconic photo of the self-immolation of
Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc in Saigon in 1963. The monk committed
suicide to protest what he called government persecution of Buddhists.
Browne, who worked for the AP and later The New York Times, died Monday
at age 81.
In an interview last year with Time,
Browne detailed how the famous photo came about. He said he had
cultivated contacts with monks who had become active in opposing the
government. He told Time:
about springtime (1963), the monks began to hint that they were going
to pull off something spectacular by way of protest ...
monks were telephoning the foreign correspondents in Saigon to warn
them that something big was going to happen. Most of the correspondents
were kind of bored with that threat after a while and tended to ignore
it. I felt that they were certainly going to do something, that they
were not just bluffing, so it came to be that I was really the only
Western correspondent that covered the fatal day."
The photo had an immediate impact.
As the AP noted in its story
on Browne's death, "The photos he took appeared on front pages around
the globe and sent shudders all the way to the White House, prompting
President John F. Kennedy to order a re-evaluation of his
administration's Vietnam policy."
to the South Vietnamese government continued to grow in the months that
followed. On Nov. 1, 1963, about five months after Browne's photo was
taken, a group of South Vietnamese generals, with tacit U.S. backing,
carried out a coup against South Vietnam's president, Ngo Dinh Diem.
photo and his reporting pointed to the complicated nature of the
Vietnam war that would last for more than a decade and cause great
divisions in the U.S.
Browne wrote a memoir in 1993, called Muddy Boots and Red Socks,
saying that he "did not go to Vietname harboring any opposition to
America's role in the Vietnamese civil war." However, he went on to say
that the "shadow war" carried out by the Kennedy administration changed
After leaving the AP, Browne went on to work for the Times for three decades as a foreign correspondent and a science writer.
Browne is among a trio of AP journalists who distinguished themselves during the Vietnam war and have died recently.
EnlargePeter Arnett/APBrowne (left) is seen with AP photographer Horst Faas in the Saigon office, April 3, 1964.
Photographer Horst Faas, who won one of his two Pulitzer prizes in Vietnam, died in his native Germany in May at age 79.
And reporter George Esper,
who was also 79, died in February. Esper was such a dogged reporter
that he remained in Saigon and reported on its fall to the North
Vietnamese on April 30, 1975, when the few remaining Americans evacuated
by helicopter from rooftops. Esper, still working in the AP bureau, was
asked to leave the country a short while later by North Vietnamese