I spent some time researching the Big – 3 magazines: Life, Time and Newsweek, to see what their covers looked like during the years of the Vietnam War. I managed to collect over a hundred, which include Vietnam War photos or faces of those important people who were tied to the war effort at that time; all are shown on my slideshow in chronological order. It’s interesting to note the volume of coverage during the early part of the war and then again during the final months – and also seeing how the photos and headlines had changed over the years. I also found it odd that very little was published about the 1968 Tet Offensive and mentioned on only two covers.
The 60’s were a decade of war, demonstrations, and other cultural changes – a time when censorship was challenged, and everybody pushed the envelope to see what they could get away with. The Vietnam War was the biggest event of my generation and the press exploited it. News reports brought the war right into our living rooms every evening during the dinner hour, while weekly magazines, some with vivid photos of the war – a constant reminder as they collected on our coffee tables. Photographers, both male and female, traveled with the troops in the jungles and rice paddies, taking pictures at every opportunity; all showed the mud, blood, horror and brutality of war, rushing the rolls of film to the states in hopes of making the next issue.
Many journalists and photographers lost their lives in Vietnam while in the bush covering the war, those on the top of my head are Larry Burrows, Dickey Chapelle, Bernard Fall and Errol Flynn’s son, Sean among others. Unfortunately, most of the stories were depressing and eventually helped sway the public opinion against the war and its warriors. I did not see any covers showing the “uplifting” and “humane” things we accomplished during that war, i.e. orphanages, MedCap, irrigation, village wells, improved roads, medicine, etc., and I didn’t see any pictures of me either. I’ll just have to be content with my photo slide show and personal photo albums.
While viewing these covers, see if you can tell when the “social shift” began and leave a comment at the end of this article with your observations. Enjoy!
All of the above photos were obtained from the archive files of Life Magazine, Time Magazine, Newsweek and Google search.
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I was a teen when I was setting in the barber shop with my dad looking and reading a Magazine and it had a picture inside of US solders talking about how fast the M16 bullet could travel and if it hit you in the buttocks it would spin you around and knock you down. Being a hunter I was interested in ammo.Crazy thing I found myself maybe 4 years later in1970 in Viet Nam.11B how did I end up here! Seeing National Geographic and natives to seeing people in a jungle with nothing but a cardboard box a string of chicken wire and a cloth to cover themself. Holding that M 16 I seen in the picture with the grunts.I’ve been trying to find that Magazine! Thanks for sharing you arrivals!
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I have the October 28, 1965 Life magazine. It was my husband’s Marine outfit depicted in those pictures. He wrote to his mother and asked her to buy it telling her that there were news photographers with his outfit. I also have the letter he wrote to her to buy it. When he came home he had no idea what the pictures depicted and was sad that she saw all of that. He kept most of his many operations to himself.
I wonder if Vernon Wike was on the cover or just inside
I reviewed this post with much interest since I was in s.e. Asia in 1967 & 1968……If this is supposed to include all the covers of LIFE magazine of Vietnam, there is one I was most interested in missing. This is a photo of LBJ waving to troops on the January 6, 1968 LIFE cover! I know since I was in the group of troops he was waving to. It is most vivid since we had just gotten off a 12 hour shift dog tired launching bombing missions to North Vietnam and were rousted out of bed at 4AM to pose for an LBJ photo opt. After waving to the cameras for the media back home, he flew off into the sunset while we continued the struggle, I still have the LIFE cover framed in my den today.
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I am trying to find a magazine cover for my neighbor who is a Vietnam veteran. The Newsweek of Feb 12th 1968 did not fit the description. Have you seen a cover with the following description?
I could not open your reference. The 1968 Tet Offensive in Hue’ City (pronounced Way City) = 30 January – 03 March 1968. This was the largest/longest single battle of the war. The pic was during that time. The border of the cover was in color, the cover picture was black and white. I was kneeling, sniper rifle against the wall, a large Marine up/moving away from camera = Michael McKean; there were a couple of other Marines on the roof which had about a 3 foot high parapet wall around the perimeter of the flat roof. Inside the magazine had pictures of wounded and dead Marine Snipers being lowered by rope to the ground. Our Sniper Platoon (28 snipers= 14 snipers/14 spotters) went up on that roof the morning of 31 January. Five days later, only nine walked off, most with wounds, the rest of those souls were killed. The building was the MACV = (Military Assistance Command- Vietnam). The cover picture may have been used in a later publication date than when taken?? I lost my copy years ago. It would be nice to see it again.
Kind personal regards/ be well, JC
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I doubt if the Army (and politicians) learned anything from Vietnam (Iraq/Afgh. being a prime example), but the one ‘good’ thing that came out of it is the curtailing of the (liberal) media: they certainly were biased and eager to disseminate Communist propaganda (Stalin would have called them ‘useful idiots’). Turning TET from a disastrous military campaign (VC virtually wiped out) into a resounding ‘publicity’ victory….
So, no more free travelling around the battlefield, but embedded with the troops – reducing the endless stream of negativity (though obviously, even for the media, the Taliban are not the ‘great people’ that the Communist were – with their excellent manipulation and distortion tactics).
Good overview of covers – and printed media that once was.
Hi, I don’t see a link on this email
Jumpin Jim Jarvis The Financial Freedom Fighter Said That. ________________________________
Much like today’s news media, they are (literally) looking for blood, and found much in that war. What stories do need to be told are those of, as reiterated in this article, the good things Americans did for Vietnam and its people. Have heard way too much of the negative…just saying.
Like watching a time capsule being opened up. It certainly shows the stages of support for the war. Not sure how much of it reflected the opinions of the population as a whole or the opinions of the honcho’s running the magazines. When all that was going on, I naively thought that these magazines reported the news; I now realize that most (if not all ‘news’ media is really just propaganda slanted toward one side of an issue or another. Sad.
Those of us who had not went over there yet did not realize what we were getting into. Them comes the orders 3-4 months in advance. Still not sinking in. Then that fateful day when actually leaving our families behind. Will we return in one piece (alive) or in a metal box. Then the reality as our plane descends into Saigon, DaNang, CMRB. Now we can associate with the magazines and TV.