Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War

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 what happened to that girl after the camera shutter closed. Award-winning biographer Denise Chong’s portrait of Kim Phuc-who eventually defected to Canada and is now a UNESCO spokesperson-is a rare look at the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point-of-view and one of the only books to describe everyday life in the wake of this war and to probe its lingering effects on all its participants. (
Year of Publication
Penguin Books
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A touching story of human perseverance

Field of Interest/Specialty: English as a Second Language
Posted On: 05/22/2017

The book The Girl in the Picture is a biography of the life of Kim Phuc, the young girl featured in a well-known picture from the Vietnam War showing children running down the road after napalm had been dropped on their village. One girl in the center of the photo is running naked after the napalm burned the clothes right off her body. It does not take much imagination on the viewer's part to imagine the screams coming from her based on the agony depicted on her face in the photo. The author does provide thorough background into the history of Kim Phuc's family. The reader is afforded a first-hand account of the roles family members play in Vietnam prior to the onset of the war as well as during the war.
The author also explains then effects the picture had on the life of the young Vietnamese photographer, Nick Ut, who actually captured the picture for American journalists and the efforts to get it published in the West.
The book does not begin with Kim Phuc as a young girl in a village, rather we are introduced to her as an adult woman living an unassuming life in Toronto with her family when she realizes she's being followed by paparazzi who have recently learned who she is and where she's living. From there time rolls in reverse back to the early lives of her parents and the daily on-goings of the people of her village. In this way, a reader with limited knowledge of life in Vietnam prior to and during the war for the citizens of Vietnam gains some understanding of some of the difficult life-choices forced on these people daily.
This book is not only informative, but also a touching story of human perseverance, resilience, and maybe most of all it is a story of forgiveness.