Video Journalists in the Vietnam War. A Memoir.

Review of the Memoir ‘On the Frontlines of the Television War’

The book “On the Frontlines of the Television War: A Legendary War Cameraman in Vietnam” is so different than almost every other read of mine lately and has such an important subject matter that I feel I must review it here. True, I have read of war before, but not from this angle. I admit I did not realize the risks that video journalists, such as the author Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki, took in wartime. Now I know better.

The Vietnam War & The Journalists

Tony and so many other cameramen and camerawomen were capturing the events of the Vietnam War for ABC News and other news stations. Of course, I knew there were people doing so, but I certainly didn’t take into account the immense danger they put themselves in to film a story of the day’s “bang bang” events, as they were known.

Being close to gunfire while filming scenes of the war, putting their lives on the line, must have been excruciatingly hard. And I’m here to say thank you to these people who did so to bring the humanity of the situation, rather than the bloodshed alone, to televisions in countless living rooms.

A Heartfelt Read

When I began the book, I noted it was divided into the sections “Good Luck” and “Bad Luck.” I knew that this was going to be quite the read. And so it was. The forward by Ted Koppel provides an intense introduction to what is to come.

The sections on friendship and camaraderie between Tony, a leading ABC News video journalist, and other journalists, including correspondents and sound technicians, was beautiful to read.

And, on the other side of the luck coin, so heart-wrenching were the words Tony wrote about those he knew who had died in the Vietnam War while striving to show what was happening over in Vietnam. These brave people never left the war-torn country, but Tony does an amazing job of honoring them and bringing them back to us in spirit with his words.

The integral role of editor Terry Irving is evident. I received an advance copy of this book from Terry, who translated Tony’s Japanese book that released in 2008 into “On the Frontlines of the Television War.” Irving retained the heart of the original story, as well as including original war correspondence and photos from the Vietnam War years (1955-1975) in the book.

Final Review Thoughts

This memoir reminds me that we must not only honor the soldiers of war but also those men and women who are reporting the news story, both in front of and behind the video camera as they risk their lives right alongside the soldiers. This memoir is heartfelt and educational. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

You can get your copy on Amazon today:

On the Frontlines of the Television War: A Legendary War Cameraman in Vietnam

♥ Christy

Advertisements

84 thoughts on “Review of the Memoir ‘On the Frontlines of the Television War’

  1. Teagan Geneviene

    Quite impressive, Christy. Thanks for this mindful review. As a young girl, I sat on the living room floor in front of the TV. Every evening I was glued to the national news, watching in horror as they stated the revised death toll. It’s not something I can forget.
    Mega hugs, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  2. Wm. Allen

    Vietnam vets didn’t receive a very enthusiastic welcome home. I recall we often weren’t welcome in VFW Halls. It was decades later that I saw a sign in front of a VFW Hall saying, “Vietnam Veterans Welcome”. I probably should have stopped, went in and expressed my appreciation.

    But those years in the Army was not definitive for me, I’ve had a long life. I left my service years behind along with high school years. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  3. Prajakta

    Great review Christy… Something important to read considering how the role of press is changing our political, social and even cultural environment. It’s something that needs to be acknowledged.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      I suppose if a book stands out to me in some unique way then I’ll review it (whether it be that it sticks in my mind for good or bad reasons, hehe) ~ Oh it’s lovely to see you here!

      Like

      Reply
  4. Billybuc

    I’ve actually been reading about Vietnam for the past month. This would be the perfect “next book,” so thanks for the review. What a mess that war was….what a sad, sad mess.

    Hugs from Oly

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Oh really, what a coincidence that you were already reading about Vietnam. Yes, this sounds like it would be the perfect next read for you. So glad this review has been helpful! By the way, I went for a nice walk in the sun at lunchtime ~ As you say, it’s back to winter-like weather tomorrow ((Hugs))

      Like

      Reply
  5. vivachange77

    Well done, Christy. The other day I saw the picture of a news photographer shooting the photo of an explosion that killed her. You are so right we need to remember the women and men who are in harms way bringing us the news. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. theburningheart

    Nice review Christy, since you enjoyed that book I will recommend to you to read Chris Hedges: ‘War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.’ Hedges draws on classical literature and his experiences as a war correspondent to argue that war seduces entire societies, creating fictions that the public believes and relies on to continue to support conflicts. He also describes how those who experience war may find it exhilarating and addictive. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Sue Dreamwalker

    This sounds a compelling read Christy.. One though I would not pick from the shelves.. Simply because I think it would upset me too much.. on the conflicts and suffering that so often war films dramatize as being good TV..
    Vietnam was another horrible war with much suffering.. I commend the writer for his courage in writing his memories.. Not an easy thing to revisit. Without trauma.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. Resa

    Vietnam…. the war… this sounds like an important read. You’ve made a wonderful review.
    The journalists surely showed us all the horror, and helped raise awareness that helped bring the war to an end. Many thank yous to them and all of the men who served.
    Christy. I know how hard it is to research, learn… come to know about war from a second hand point of view. The main thing I came away with is….I’ll never really know.
    The link is to a Showtime movie I did the costumes for years ago. It is 3 tales of Vietnam War, and the tale is based around the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC. https://vimeo.com/24743005 I made the video for portfolio/demo purposes.
    I hope only the link is here and not an embedding of the video itself.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Oh wow such an important project you were involved in and thank you for sharing the link to show me a bit more (promo link, as you say). It is hard to wrap our heads around but I’m thankful for that as it means we won’t have first-hand experience with war.. which is so traumatic.. Instead I wish for peace xo

      Like

      Reply
  9. dgkaye

    Wonderfully said Christy. Fantastic tribute to all of those brave newspeople that put their lives on the line to report. They are so often overlooked, but being an avid news watcher I’ve often gasped at watching journalists report from some wartorn country wondering why on earth do they sacrifice their lives to report to us. Bravery is paramount. And thanks for sharing your review. I am now adding to my TBR. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  10. Rolly A. Chabot

    Thanks for the review Christy. This sounds like a heartfelt read, well written with a new look at war. I can recall much of the negative news and response to the war itself. It is sad that men and women sacrificed so much.

    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  11. Annika Perry

    Christy, this is a brilliant heartfelt review and one I will see if I can get hold of. As I started out in journalism I have a fascination with news reporting since young and read many books by reporters both of their work and reportages from often war-torn countries. Two of my favourites are Martin Bell and John Simpson’s books. One of the best female print correspondents at the moment I think is Christina Lamb and she has co-written books with amongst others, Malala as well as her own reportage books.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Hi Annika, ohhh I’m so glad you told me about Christina Lamb as I will have to look her up online. I’ve written an article about Malala and was so inspired by her (still am inspired, actually!). Great comment here!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  12. macalder02

    Unfortunately no war is justified unless one has to risk life but journalism of that caliber, has its risks that is paid with death. You make an extraordinary review of the book. As always, your words hit the nail to describe it. Excellent exposure.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      The risks.. They are life-threatening, as you say. Thanks for this feedback as I did try to explain the heart of the book and how it tore my heart reading sections of it…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  13. Sageleaf

    Wonderful review. I’m very intrigued! And you know…the idea of the memoir – it’s powerful. It makes me really want to write one, despite the saturation in the memoir market. Thank you for the awesome review you shared but also for the inspiration. It’s easy to forget the role of the journalist while watching footage of what’s occurring in the world. And I apologize for not making it over sooner; the end of the school year kind of had me treading turbulent waters, but now we have concluded the program for the year and I have a little more time! Yayay! Sending you hugs and light and hope that you have a wonderful week! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Hi sweetie! No need to apologize as you’re welcome here at any time ♥ No need to knock – just come on in and sit on the couch. I’ll be over with cups of tea for us and we’ll take time to catch up. Sound good? Great you got through the school year and can rest a bit. I hope your month is off to a wonderful start and you are on track with the plan you’ve been sharing so brilliantly on your site xo

      Like

      Reply
  14. Ka Malana - Fiestaestrellas.com

    Great review, Christy! This is not a topic that is an easy read as war has ravaged our hearts and minds in so many ways – I bet it’s quite a thoughtful memoir. The Vietnam War correspondents really did provide a service to our greater community by letting us “see” what was happening and where the war was actually heading (into Cambodia!). By doing so, they put their lives in danger. Nevertheless, the Vietnam War correspondence was so unique from the previous wars that understanding its public and even policy effects are still being discussed with great emotion and debate. Thanks for sharing about this book. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      It was an emotional read, for sure, Ka. I had to put the book down for a bit because I needed to process what I had read for a few days when I was partway through the read. It sounds like you have done some research on The Vietnam War and have a deep understanding of it, so I appreciate your sharing your thoughts here xx

      Like

      Reply
  15. smilecalm

    i appreciate this review of the war
    i was fortunate enough to be a year
    too you for being sent into.
    i’ve visited VietNam a couple of times
    and am amazed at the healing & forgiveness
    offered by the people & the land 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  16. Ste J

    Great review, it is easy to forget that people put themselves in harms way to bring us the images and words in our newspapers and on TV screens. More should be written about these intrepid souls who must experience so much horror.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      I learned so much about video journalists by reading this book, particularly in how heroic they are during war time. So nice you came to visit – thinking of you trying to readjust back of home now!

      Like

      Reply
      1. Ste J

        It is a challenge but I am getting back into the swing of things, read three books since I have been back so that is a start! It’s taken a while to get the motivation to catch up on all things blog but I am glad to be catching up with everyone.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
        1. Christy B Post author

          I saw Resa’s tribute to you and it was so fitting for your blog! It’s so nice you contributed to her month for kids. Awesome that you are back to reading and getting into the swing of things again. We missed you!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ste J

          It was very kind of her to mention me as she did. I missed you guys too, had the internet not been so slow and intermittent, I would have done some sort of update post but I’m back now with plenty of everything to post.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s