ON THE FRONTLINES OF THE TELEVISION WAR: A LEGENDARY WAR CAMERAMAN IN VIETNAM by former ABC NEWS combat cameraman Yasutsune "Tony" Hirashiki as told to Terry Irving. [Casemate Publishers] firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most Americans never knew that arguably the best cameraman covering the Vietnam War was a Japanese gentleman by the name of Yasutsune "Tony" Hirashiki. He was never seen because he was always behind the camera, but he with the journalist in front of the camera who brought the Vietnam War in the livingrooms all across the world.
This is the riveting story of Yasutsune "Tony" Hirashiki's ten years in Vietnam - beginning in 1966, only 14 years after American occupation troops left Japan when a young Hirashiki arrived in Vietnam as a young freelancer with a 16 mm camera but without a job or the slightest grasp of English. He covered it all up to and including the hectic fall of Saigon in 1975 when he was literally thrown aboard one of the last flights out.
His memoir has all the exciting tales of peril, hardships, and close calls as the best of battle memoirs, but it is primarily a story of very real and yet remarkable people: the soldiers who fought, bled and died, and the reporters and photographers who went right to the frontlines to record their stories and memorialize the sacrifice of countless American GIs.
The great books about Vietnam journalism have been mostly about print reporters, still photographers, and television correspondents. Given the fact the Vietnam War was truly the first "television war," then it is time to hear the story of the cameramen who shot the pictures and the reporters who wrote the stories witnessed daily by millions of Americans when they got home from work and flipped on the evening news.
In typical Japanese fashion, Hirashiki continually strove for excellence as he captured that horrible war on film for the world to see and historians to mull over for eternity. Somehow, a cameraman has to keep his equipment clean and dry. In the jungles of Vietnam that wasn't easy to do. Today, excellent cameras are light, digital and resilient.
In the 60s motion picture cameras were very heavy and terribly difficult to keep working in the stifling heat of the jungles of Vietnam. Along with his great technical skill was his nerves of steel. Being shot at in a war zone is bad enough, but being shot at when you don't have a weapon to defend yourself is even worse. Tony was the guy who never got the credit and never asked for it. His book is just as great as the man behind it. You won't be able to put this book down.
Our rating for this fabulous book is a full four stars.