Burrows was the first photographer to cover a war comprehensively in color. The composed drama of the photograph recalls the stylized choreography of history painting from earlier centuries. Yet the picture's power lies no less in its vivid description of utter ruin and existential exhaustion than in our knowledge, through photography, that these are real men in a real place.
Burrows covered the Vietnam War for Life magazine from 1962 until his death at the age of forty-four, in 1971, when the helicopter carrying him to the invasion of Laos crashed. In his work, Burrows sought the center of violent action and attempted to describe its effects on people. He hoped that his photographs would "penetrate the hearts of those at home who are simply too indifferent" and that they would "show people what others go through."
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 288.