Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner

Date taken: February 1, 1968
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Photographer: Eddie Adams
Source: Wide World Photos

Historical Context

One of the most famous images in contemporary American journalism.

The photo won Eddie Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography, though he was later said to have regretted its impact. The image became an anti-war icon.

Adams wrote in Time:

"The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, "What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?"

Along with a film shot a the same time, the photograph helped turn the American public against the war in Vietnam.

Historical Events

  • 1968-02-01 Saigon police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executes Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém with a pistol shot to head. The execution is captured by photographer Eddie Adams and becomes an anti-war icon.

Historical Photos