Malcolm Browne, the journalist responsible for one of the most iconic images from the early days of the Vietnam War, has died at the age of 81. Browne famously photographed a Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc who burned himself to death in Saigon to protest the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government. Browne had suffered from Parkinson's disease since 2000, and died Monday night in a New Hampshire hospital after complaining of trouble breathing. The Associated Press' obituary by Ula Ilnytzky is the best resource for learning more about his life and the circumstances of his death.
Browne spent three quarters of his 40-year career with The New York Times, but he was stationed in Vietnam with The Associated Press when he snapped the 1963 photo that reportedly helped make then-President John F. Kennedy rethink U.S. support for the regime of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. "No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one," Kennedy said, according to the New Statesman. Browne won a Pulitzer prize for his coverage of Vietnam in 1964, and went on to a career as the kind of war reporter more often seen in fiction. "By his own account, Browne survived being shot down three times in combat aircraft, was expelled from half a dozen countries and was put on a 'death list' in Saigon," The AP wrote in its news story on his death. Separately, the AP's obituary describes a diligent reporter who caught his career-making image by sheer diligence. The Buddhist monks protesting the Diem regime had contacted select members of the foreign press before the planned self-immolation, but only Browne showed up.