David Douglas Duncan (1916-2018)


David Douglas Duncan, Through the mountains: Allied evacuation of Hungnam, Korea, 1950 (1984.2005)


David Douglas Duncan, Some of the Marines on the march down the alley, plodding along with sleeping bags wrapped around them in an attempt to get a little warmer – futile. Everyone walked who wasn’t wounded or frozen-footed, Changjin Reservoir, Korea 1950 (1980.2005)


David Douglas Duncan, Christmas in Korea – Completely exhausted, a Marine sleeps at wheel of his halted jeep while his pet Korean puppy whines in his ear, Changjin Korea, 1950 (1979.2005)

He joined Life after the war, and his assignments took him to conflicts in Palestine, Greece and Turkey and to India, Egypt, Morocco and Afghanistan. He was in Japan in 1950 when North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel, igniting a United Nations police action that would leave 36,500 Americans dead.

Mr. Duncan was soon on the front lines, exposed to the same dangers as the allied troops and civilian refugees. He also flew on bombing missions, taking pictures from jets swooping over targets. He wrote the text for This Is War!, as he did for his other books, but critics said it was his pictures that captured the essence of war.

“My objective always is to stay as close as possible and shoot the pictures as if through the eyes of the infantryman, the Marine or the pilot,” he told an interviewer in 1951. “I wanted to give the reader something of the visual perspective and feeling of the guy under fire, his apprehensions and sufferings, his tensions and releases, his behavior in the presence of threatening death.” New York Times, June 8, 2018

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