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The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, Whose Image Altered the Course of the Vietnam War
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The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, Whose Image Altered the Course of the Vietnam War

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,079 ratings  ·  104 reviews
On June 8, 1972, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by napalm, ran from her blazing village in South Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph-one of the most unforgettable images of the twentieth century-was seen around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War. This book is the story of how that photograph came to be-and the story of ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 7th 2000 by Viking Adult (first published September 1st 1900)
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Sarah
At first glance, The Girl in the Picture is the incredible and inspiring account of a young girl; a victim of war. Look a little closer, though, and you will find a powerful deconstruction of wartime politics and moving commentary about humanity itself. For the world to see a child running in terror from an earth-shaking explosion; to see her body and clothes burned away from the excruciatingly painful napalm boiling into her bones; to look straight into her eyes and identify with her humanity… ...more
Jessica
Ugh, just lost my big long review mid-type. Short version here now that I am ticked off:

-Liked this book a lot. Well written book about an interesting topic and person.
-Enjoyed learning more about Vietnam war in this manner; much more sticky in my brain from this story than what I may have been "taught" about it in school.
-Touched by Kim's personal journey. Innocence, pain, strength, struggle, forgiveness.
-Really made me think about the difference of the experience of "life" for people in differ
...more
Jim
This biographical work follows the life of Kim Phuc from the time she was badly burned in a napalm strike during the Vietnam war. If I learned anything from reading this, it's that the war in Vietnam was really a pointless struggle; it would have been better to have let the soldiers from the north take over the corrupt Saigon regime from the outset. Once securely in possession of the country, the communist regime could have started to implode through graft, corruption, and incompetence much soon ...more
Carolyn Gerk
I'm torn between 2.5 and 3 stars.
I enjoyed some of the novel, Phuc's story is engrossing at times. The timeline of her family's history is used as a vehicle to narrate an historical novel detailing the Vietnam war and the tumultuous unrest that preceded and followed. In turns enthralling as a character tale and as a history lesson, I felt that there were times when one aspect would take away from the other. The balance was not there, for me. I am not partial to 'historical' novels; I need a cha
...more
Morgan Pugh
Difficult in some parts to read as a Vietnam Vet's kid. There is a decent brief history of the Vietnam conflict and Kim's life is fascinating. The writing itself is not very good. The author's most irritating tactic is to hit the reader over the head, many times with the author's point of view. So, in reading this book, there is not an unbiased history or biography. Mostly, the story compensates. It is definitely worth knowing about Kim's life. Wish this had been in the hands of a better writer.
Jerome Parisse
The Girl in the Picture tells the true story of Kim Phuc, the nine year old Vietnamese girl who runs naked on a road after a Napalm attack on her village during the Vietnam War. This photo, taken by Nick Ut, is probably the most famous photo of the Vietnam War, one that had a great influence in making the public aware of the atrocities of the war, and in helping – in some way - to end it. This is a fascinating story, very sad at times, scary, depressing but also full of hope. Denise Chong has do ...more
Bob Schmitz
Well researched, interesting story about Kim Phuc, a Vietnamese girl badly burned by napalm who's photo by Nick Ut of her running towards the viewer arms spread wide helped turn the American public against the war.

I sure knew this photo seeing it as a teenager at the time and many times since. It along with photos a Vietnamese officer shooting a Viet Cong in the head, and the last helicopter leaving the US embassy in Saigon are the classic photo's from the Vietnam War. It was prominently display
...more
Amy
This was particularly interesting just having come from Vietnam. While Vietnam was a very moving experience of the first-hand effects of war, the propaganda information leaves a bit to be desired in terms of historical accuracy. Though I'm not defending American involvement in the war, I don't think it's quite fair to say that the US just came in and started bombing a peaceful, unified country (as the propaganda claims). They also claim, of course, that the Communist takeover left everyone happy ...more
Mark
Every American should read this book. Denise Chong has a way of telling a story that transcends barriers of race, nationality and religion and touches the human heart. It was very informative to me also to learn the history of Vietnam after the Americans left from the Vietnamese point of view.

Kim Phuc is an inspiration for us all. Reading her story can only make us more human and better at being a human. I don't see how anyone could not be touched by this story.

Everyone should read Denise. She i
...more
Veronnica
The tragic true story of the girl which was photographed running towards a journalist cameraman after the US Military dropped Napalm in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This is her story after that photograph was taken. Shame, shame to the US government as they have left a large devastating legacy which continues to affect citizens of Vietnam. Dioxin poisoning still causes major birth defect in children born in this area. No excuse should be used for using these chemical weapons on humans, ...more
Bronwyn
If your history's a bit shaky and you want an insider's look at the Vietnam War then this book is for you. Even better, this book gives a rare look at life post-war and what it was like living under the communist regime (which technically still exists, but cloaking a capitalist economy). Denise Chong is an evocative writer who knows how to pair narrative with historical context for an engaging read. As I've just been to Vietnam, this book gave me a much better sense of the differences between no ...more
Rachel
3 1/2 stars. It got real slow about 3/4 in, when you're too far to turn back but still have so far to go to finish.

I am currently living in Southern Vietnam, and wanted to read a book that didn't just focus on the war. I really appreciated the author's writing style, and how she changed Phuc's name to Kim as Kim did, how she was able to really show what Kim was thinking and feeling at different periods in her life. Although this book starts during the war (which they do call the American War her
...more
Joann Loudermilk
Feb 25, 2010 Joann Loudermilk is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like history
An incredible insight not only of a girl, Kim Phuc, who was at the wrong place at really the wrong time; but an incredible and personal look at the Vietnamese culture and climate.

For a historical novel it is written with depth and understanding and really is a book that is difficult to put down.
Evelyn
Denise Chong's amazing work brings the reader into Kim Phuc's shoes and keeps the reader engaged into what Kim Phuc has felt when experiencing the traumatic events that happened in her life.

This is an amazing book about the life of a Vietnamese girl during the traumatic event of the Vietnamese war. Kim Phuc was born into a family that was in the middle class of the Vietnamese society. Before the war, she was just like any other girl in the province of Trang Bang, southern vietnam. She was a brig
...more
Lisa
I wish there was a star-ranking system that made clear the difference between thinking a book is generally mediocre and loving some parts and hating others.

The latter for this one. Many thoughts, and generally recommended if you're interested in the Vietnam War, communist societies, immigration, or photography.

What I loved about the book: it was a personal history that emphasized transitional points. I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking of Vietnam's history as a series of points, so inte
...more
Gabriella
This was a very interesting book. I enjoyed it very much. It gave a very informative, emphatic and deep insight into what life is like under war and a communist regime. It makes me sad to think that there are parts of the world where fighting and brutality go for very long periods of time. The journey that Kim Phuc was was an extraordinary one and the book showed how she tried to be so resilient, but felt herself being crushed so many times. While a lot of people say the communists were using he ...more
Shirin
This book started a little slow for me. I kept comparing this book with another book on the other Indo-China tragedy inthe 70s - 80s, about Cambodia under the polpot regime written by Elizabeth Becker titled When the war was over. That book is fast paced from the very start, I could not put it down.

This book written by Denise Chong was a easier to fall off especially at the start as the passages does not read easy.

Thankfully I soldiered on. It got easier to read especially towards the end. I cou
...more
Jen0426
I am glad that I read this book, but not necessarily because the writing was fantastic but more because it was interesting to know the story of the girl in the photo, to hear the perspective of a South Vietnamese girl living during the Vietnam War, and because we are getting ready to travel to Vietnam in a couple of weeks.

I was familiar with this photo before I read the book and remember being horrified by the faces of the children. This photo is haunting as it captures such a vivid moment of h
...more
Kathee
Nov 07, 2008 Kathee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in Vietnam
During a rainy afternoon while in Vietnam, specifically in Nga Trang, a boy of 12-ish sold me this book while I drank at Crazy Kim's Bar. Crazy Kim's is a bar designed to support an effort to keep children away from pedophiles. Ironically, the bar has a full menu including spa treatments, blowjobs (shots), and pink pussies (shots), with youths serving the patrons. I was astonished, but supportive of the cause Kim was trying to produce. Pictures of the menu can be found in my travel blog: www.iso ...more
Kathryn  Bullen
"If you kneel down, life is a mountain; if you stand up, life is at your feet". This is a challenging and inspiring read about the life of a Vietnamese girl captured in what was to become a famous photo documenting the horrors of war. It follows her physical ordeals recovering from the wounds and scarring of the Napalm bomb but also her emotional ordeals living under the restrictions of a totalitarian Communist regime and her final escape to freedom in Canada. Recommended.
Fayette
Purchased this after touring Vietnam. Although I had a very simple understanding of the events of the V. war before the trip, I really liked how this book gave a very clear and concise timeline of the events. The story of Kim Phuc, the girl in the picture, kept me motivated to keep reading...as dates and events without faces attached are hard to get excited about. I would recommend this book.
Ashley
For someone who was (embarrassingly) unlearned in the Vietnam War, this was a well-written and thoughtful introduction, through the eyes of just one of its victims. Chong's style is narrative and fluid and I found myself easily reading 100 pages without realizing it. Chong strives to remain apolitical and I appreciate the unbiased tone she attempts to maintain. Well done.
Chuck
The story of Kim Phuk is fascinating on several counts. What it explains to Americans who want to know the experience of mainstream Vietnamese after the war is one thing. How it traces the personal life of Kim Phuk is another, but both subjects held my interest through the book.

While we often look down upon the political structures of the non-democratic world, there are people in this story that remind us that people of good character still make benevolent impacts--regardless of where they live,
...more
Kathy
The writing was factual, a little dry, but I forged on because of all I was learning about the war that happened as I grew up. In the 60's and 70's I really had no understanding of why it was going on. I'm not sure I understand much more of why, but it was interesting to read about the daily life of Phuc and her family at that time. I vividly remember seeing "the picture" for the first time, and it probably affects me even more today because of my Vietnamese-American grandchildren. I've heard of ...more
Beverly
In 1972, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by napalm, ran from her blazing village in South Vietnam and into the eye of a camera. Her photograph was seen around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War. Most amazing is her story after the photograph. An excellent novel.
Abby
Sep 19, 2007 Abby rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Viet Nam and the war
The premise of the book is describing the family history and life of Kim Phuc in the famous picture of the Vietnamese war, naked and screaming as she ran down the road after being drenched with Napalm from a SVA plane. My book group read this book and I was pleasantly surprised. It really captured what I felt about the landscape in Viet Nam and presented history in a non-threatening, enlivened way. I am ashamed to admit how little I understand about the Vietnamese (American) war although I partl ...more
Alice
This book was amazing. When I took AP U.S. History, we did an in depth study of the Vietnam War, and after doing some of my own personal study, I assumed that I knew pretty much all there was to know about the Vietnam War. This book proved me wrong. After googling "Vietnam War" so many times and seeing this picture over and over again, I became curious as to "Who was the Girl in the Picture?" This book is a narrative, following a young Vietnamese girl named Kim Phuc from the time she was eight y ...more
Carolyn Johnson
This is one of the BEST biographies I've ever read. I learned so much about the Vietnam War, but the story was so much different than I expected. Kim Phuc shows amazing forgiveness and joy in the face of great pain and hardship.
Sophie
Seeing the original picture displayed in the museum in Vietnam I was excited to read the book but found it was a difficult book to read and couldn't quite get into. Maybe a second go might help
Ian
The photo of Kim Phuc running from her village horribly burned is one of those photos that just about everyone would have seen. It has been used widely by anti-war protestors and the communist government of Viet Nam in propaganda.
Sadly what is lost in the iconic image is that Kim Phuc is a real person. This is her story and it follows her life through her recovery and constant treatment of the medical issues brought on by her burns, to the way she has been manipulated and used as a tool for pro
...more
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Denise Chong, writer, public servant, political advisor (b at Vancouver, BC 9 June 1953). Denise Chong, a third-generation Canadian of Chinese descent, grew up in Prince George. She earned a BA in Economics at the University of British Columbia (1975) and an MA in Economics and Public Policy at the University of Toronto (1978). Chong began her writing career as a journalist on the Ubyssey, the UBC ...more
More about Denise Chong...
The Concubine's Children Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance The Penguin Anthology Of Stories By Canadian Women Die Kinder der Konkubine.

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