South Vietnam, 9 June 1972 | Nick Ut
The greatest political photograph of all.
Huynh Cong Ut, known professionally as Nick Ut, is a photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1973 for his Associated Press photograph of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, taken on 8 June 1972. Kim Phuc, as a young girl, runs away naked from the scene of a napalm attack by the South Vietnamese Air Force.
A film shot by the photojournalists Alan Downes of ITN and Le Phuc Dinh of NBC shows her, the skin falling off her back, and other children shredded by the incendiary. Nick Ut's picture is a harrowing and natural image of the innocent cost of war.
In this week's magazine, he discusses the photograph and his lasting friendship with his best-known subject, who today addresses him as "Old Man" or "Uncle". Now a Canadian citizen, Khim Phuc read an essay called "The Long Road to Forgiveness" on National Public Radio in 2008:
Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed.
Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope and forgiveness.
If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?
This image features in the 50 Greatest Political Photographs (part one) special double issue of the NS. You can order your copy here.
The judges were Jason Cowley, Jonathan Dimbleby, Stuart Franklin, Rebecca McClelland and Jon Snow.
Tags: Political Photographs