Malcolm Browne: Veteran war photographer


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Malcolm Browne, who died on 27 August at the age of 81, was a photographer who took some of the most enduring images of the Vietnam War.

On 10 June 1963 he received a telephone call telling him to be at a certain location in Saigon. The next morning an elderly monk, Thich Quang Duc, assumed the lotus position on a cushion at a blocked-off junction. Aides drenched him with aviation fuel, and the monk lit a match and set himself ablaze. Of the foreign journalists tipped off, only Browne turned up.

His photos appeared on front pages around the globe and even prompted President Kennedy to order a re-evaluation of his administration's Vietnam policy. "We have to do something about that regime," Kennedy told Henry Cabot Lodge, who was about to become US ambassador to Saigon. Browne recalled in a 1998 interview that that was the beginning of the rebellion which led to the US-backed South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem being overthrown and murdered.

Browne spent most of his career at The New York Times. He survived being shot down three times in combat aircraft, was expelled from half a dozen countries and was put on a "death list" in Saigon.

Born in New York in 1931, he joined Associated Press in 1960 and went to Saigon the following year, becoming a member of a small group of journalists covering the war. Within the year he was joined by photographer Horst Faas and reporter Peter Arnett; by 1966, all three had earned Pulitzer Prizes. Browne died of complications from Parkinson's Disease.

"Malcome Browne was a precise and determined journalist who helped set the standard for rigorous reporting in the early days of the Vietnam War," said Kathleen Carroll, an AP executive editor. "He was also a genuinely decent and classy man."