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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