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Don McCullin: ‘Wherever I go, there seems to be violence and death’

From Vietnam to Biafra, he captured war and suffering with shocking power. The great photographer talks about his tough childhood, the film Angelina Jolie is making about him – and the shots that still haunt his sleep Don McCullin was with a US soldier on the fortified walls surrounding the Vietnamese city of Hué one night when he noticed something in the dark. “A hand grenade had been tossed over. We both looked at it. Then the soldier went one way and I went the other. It exploded. I thought I’d lost my leg but I was lucky. The explosion hit the other guy, killed him. I photographed him dying with blood coming out of his nose and a river of blood coming out of his head because it blew the back of his skull out.” He shows me a new print he’s made of that image, blood still glistening 54 years on. That could have been you, I say. “Easily. The easiest thing in the world, you’d think, is pressing that button on the camera. It’s not. It’s the hardest thing. When I go to bed every night, I think about that battle.” The photographer, now 86, is recalling the 1968 Tet offensive during which, he says, the ancient imperial city of Hué was destroyed by US forces in 12 days. “I would see their Phantom bombers coming at me unleashing napalm, which comes in a tube nearly the length of this room – and they’d be tumbling towards you.” Continue reading...

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