Malcolm W. Browne, the former Associated Press and New York Times Vietnam War correspondent best known for taking a much-reproduced 1963 photograph of a Buddhist monk immolating himself on the streets of Saigon, died August 27 at age 81 of complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Browne was drafted into the Army in 1956 and served in Korea where—among other things—he wrote for Stars and Stripes. After his discharge, the young Army veteran went to work for the Associated Press. He landed in Vietnam in 1961 as the A.P.’s bureau chief in Saigon.
In Saigon in 1963, as his New York Times obituary puts it, “When a Buddhist monk set himself on fire in public that year in protest of the government of South Vietnam, Mr. Browne was the only reporter there, and he captured the stunning moment in a photograph. Several papers, including The Times, chose not to run the disturbing image, but [U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot] Lodge told him he had seen a copy of it on President John F. Kennedy’s desk.”
In 1964, Brown, still working for the Associated Press, received the Pulitzer Prize for his Vietnam War reporting; he shared that award that year with another young Vietnam War correspondent, David Halberstam, who was writing for The New York Times.
After moving to The Times himself, Browne went back to Vietnam for a second tour as a war correspondent. His autobiography, Muddy Boots and Red Socks, concentrates on his military service in Korea and his reporting in Vietnam.