Bruce Allen Atwell, one of the most renowned combat photographers of the Vietnam War, is the subject of an upcoming talk at Washington & Jefferson College.
Robert K. Brigham, the Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations at Vassar College, will present “This is a True War Story” on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in Yost Auditorium of the Howard J. Burnett Center on the W&J campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Brigham’s talk will follow the remarkable life of U.S. Marine Corps Sargent Bruce Allen Atwell, who was sent to Vietnam as a combat photographer and found himself part of the initial reaction force—Alpha 1/1—sent into Hue City during the Tet Offensive. Atwell’s photographs, more than any other source, have informed our understanding of the brutal house-to-house combat in Hue City during the month of February 1968, the longest and deadliest urban battle of the entire Vietnam War. Atwell earned a Purple Heart and an honorable discharge from the Marines for serious wounds suffered in the fighting at Hue, but not before taking some of the most iconic photographs of the war. Atwell passed away in 2006.
Brigham joined the Vassar College faculty in 1994. He is a specialist on the history of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the Vietnam War. Brigham has been Albert Shaw Endowed Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, Mellon Senior Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University (Clare College), visiting professor of international relations at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, summer seminar faculty at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History (Fulbright) at University College Dublin. Brigham also directs the Vassar-West Point Initiative.
Brigham is author or co-author of nine books, among them Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam (PublicAffairs, 2018); Iraq, Vietnam, and the Limits of American Power (PublicAffaris, 2008); and Argument without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (PublicAffairs, 1999), written with former secretary of defense, Robert S. McNamara and James G. Blight then of Brown University.