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What the western world remembers about the Vietnam War is defined by a handful of iconic photographs taken through the lenses of American and other western photographers. But the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had hundreds of photographers of their own who worked in perilous conditions documenting every facet of the war. They worked for the Vietnam News Agency, the National Liberation Front, the North Vietnamese Army or various newspapers. Others were self-taught civilians, many of whom anonymously sent their films to news agencies. Many of these photographs are rarely seen, even in Vietnam.

When photojournalist Doug Niven first went to Hanoi, he expected to see the war from the Vietnamese perspective, but to his surprise, there was not even a North Vietnamese book on the war. There were a few Vietnamese publications with pictures from the war, but not a single comprehensive attempt to put all the war images together. So in the early 1990s, he started tracking down the surviving photographers.

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