The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phuc Story


373 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps
ISBN 0-670-86817-5
DDC 959.704'3'092




Reviewed by Pauline Carey

Pauline Carey is an actor, playwright, and fiction writer. She is the
author of Magic and What’s in a Name?


Kim Phuc was the subject of the famous 1972 photograph of a naked
Vietnamese girl running down the road following a napalm raid. Thanks to
the prompt attention of the photographer who took the picture, Kim Phuc
survived her burns. The fame the photograph brought her would send her
on travels—to Germany for medical help, to Russia for a world youth
festival, to Cuba for a university education—while back in South
Vietnam her mother struggled to support her family on the income
generated from the noodle shop she ran.

Chong provides a clear and concise background for the personal stories.
We learn about the horrors of the Vietnam War, about how the family in
South Vietnam were victimized by both their own army and the underground
Viet Cong, and about how the family was subsequently threatened and
harassed by the northern Communists. There are also examinations of the
animosity between Vietnam and Cambodia, of the Cuban revolution, and of
the antiwar movement.

Kim Phuc’s dreams of becoming a doctor were frustrated when the
government began to use her as a propaganda tool. Her protest against
the political interference in her life was slow in coming. It wasn’t
until her stay in Havana that she took charge of her life and sought
freedom in Canada.

Chong’s book is supplemented with a map, a family tree, and some
black-and-white photographs.


Chong, Denise., “The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phuc Story,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 17, 2022,