Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Napalm Attack

with 5 comments


In 1972, this picture of a nine-year-old girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing her village after a napalm attack brought the Vietnam War home to many. Although the picture was initially scoffed for having a naked girl at its centre, the shocking nature of napalm attacks silenced the prudes. The picture was so revealing in the nature that President Nixon accused its photographer of staging the photo.

Behind the girl, one can observe all the South Vietnamese armies running with Kim, other members of her family including her younger brother, who looked back into the black smoke. The Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut had been just outside the village when two planes dropped four napalm bombs. He heard the cries, and “I want some water, I’m too hot, too hot,” – in Vietnamese, “Nong qua, nong qua!”

Nick snapped this picture, and afterwards gave her some water, and took her to the hospital. The New York Times, where the photo editors were relieved that the girl was too young to have pubic hair (that would have required a retouching), decided to put the photo on the front page

Nick won a Pulitzer and the World Press Photo of the Year for this photo. Kim Phu herself would toured the world inciting numerous political controversies: she became the star of numerous humanitarian events and anti-war campaigns and also the hero of a bestselling book Girl in the Picture.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

Posted in War

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. in this photo, you state that ‘her little brother looks ack at the black smoke’.. when infact, it is her little cousin…


    August 4, 2009 at 8:25 am

  2. […] combines the the sharpest possible copy of a sight that’s anything but sharp. A burning child running from her burning Vietnamese village, several Marines hoisting the American flag on a tiny speck of […]

  3. […] have already covered this event before, and Nick Ut’s photo I posted back then was the definitive photo of the event. However, I […]

  4. […] easier to ignore an issue if there isn’t a human face attached to it. (Case in point, https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/napalm-attack/ was among the photos that highlighted the atrocities of the Vietnam […]

  5. […] icons are Christ, the cross, the heart, the lion, Mona Lisa, Che Guevara, Nick Ut’s Villager’s Fleeing along Route I, the American flag, Coke: the bottle, DNA, and E=mc². Kemp chose these icons to represent […]

    Christ to Coke: A Review

    March 16, 2012 at 7:01 am

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