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John Morris: An eye-witness to the rise of photojournalism

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Now 93, Morris has scarcely slowed down. A Paris expat, he gives talks on "my 17 presidents" from his Bastille apartment; was recently awarded France's Légion d'honneur; writes on peace and disarmament based on his Quaker faith; and is working on a new book, "A Love Letter to My Three Wives."

"He's 93 – going on 45," says Charles Rivkin, the US ambassador to France.

Morris remembers in detail an endless parade of figures: from Marlene Dietrich, to George Patton, to Ernest Hemingway, Andrei Sakharov, and Walter Cronkite. He was photo editor at The Washington Post and The New York Times.

The rise of the image in global culture is "a blessing and a curse ... but history needs it," Morris says. Life magazine was revolutionary in its use of photos that drove stories. But the concept started with European magazines busting the mold of pure print, he says – first in Berlin, then London, and then in the United States – by Hungarian and German refugees working for agencies like Pix and Black Star. They used small cameras that shot frames quickly. It was the start of photo-journalism.

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