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: