Life during wartime

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The Independent Culture
"War is hell," says Tim Page and who could disagree with him - particularly after looking at the photographs he took during the Vietnam War. It's now 33 years since Page, then aged 17, left England to drive across Europe and the Middle East to Nepal. When he arrived in Laos a year later, a chance encounter with a photographer from United Press International led to Page "holding the fort". He was, thus, the first photographer to capture the country in the full throes of civil war. The pictures - published in Life - only made it on to the magazine pages because Page was prepared to ride his motorbike through gunfire to deliver his first consignment of film. "An adventurer of the old school," said Life magazine. But despite being injured five times in Vietnam - and twice declared dead on arrival at hospital - Page found it hard to kick the habit. He carried on until the end of the war and then covered the Six Day Middle East conflict for Time-Life. Subsequent projects have included Eastern Europe, Castro's Cuba and the Californian lifestyle.

Now on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Unification of Vietnam, Tim Page looks back on his wartime experiences and on the modern face of Indo-China. Mid-Term Report - a new book and exhibition - is a collection of exquisite colour photographs which have managed to convey, equally, the horror of war, the beauty of the countries involved and the effects photographing war has had on his way of seeing everything since.

20 Mar-1 Apr, the Photographers Gallery, 5 Great Newport Street, WC2 (071-831 1772). Book published by Thames and Hudson £14.95

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