It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

by Lynsey Addario


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"A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir."--Kirkus (starred review)

War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling.

Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return and cover the American invasion. She makes a decision she would often find herself making—not to stay home, not to lead a quiet or predictable life, but to set out across the world, face the chaos of crisis, and make a name for herself.

Addario finds a way to travel with a purpose. She photographs the Afghan people before and after the Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, as well as the burned villages and countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war.

Addario takes bravery for granted but she is not fearless. She uses her fear and it creates empathy; it is that feeling, that empathy, that is essential to her work. We see this clearly on display as she interviews rape victims in the Congo, or photographs a fallen soldier with whom she had been embedded in Iraq, or documents the tragic lives of starving Somali children. Lynsey takes us there and we begin to understand how getting to the hard truth trumps fear.

As a woman photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys’ club of a profession. Rather than choose between her personal life and her career, Addario learns to strike a necessary balance. In the man who will become her husband, she finds at last a real love to complement her work, not take away from it, and as a new mother, she gains an all the more intensely personal understanding of the fragility of life.

Watching uprisings unfold and people fight to the death for their freedom, Addario understands she is documenting not only news but also the fate of society. It’s What I Do is more than just a snapshot of life on the front lines; it is witness to the human cost of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143128410
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 62,948
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist whose work appears regularly in The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time magazine. She has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur, and the Congo, and has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Genius Grant. In 2009, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize as part of the New York Times team for International Reporting.

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Excerpted from "It's What I Do"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Lynsey Addario.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prelude Ajdabiya, Libya, March 2011 1

Part 1 Discovering the World: Connecticut, New York, Argentina, Cuba, India, Afghanistan

Chapter 1 No Second Chances in New York 19

Chapter 2 How Many Children Do You Have? 38

Chapter 3 We Are at War 60

Part 2 The 9/11 Years: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq

Chapter 4 You, American, Are Not Welcome Here Anymore 69

Chapter 5 I Am Not as Worried About Bullets 87

Chapter 6 Please Tell the Woman We Will Not Hurt Her 111

Part 3 A Kind of Balance: Sudan, Congo, Istanbul, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, Libya

Chapter 7 Women Are Casualties of Their Birthplace 137

Chapter 8 Do Your Work, and Come Back When You Finish 151

Chapter 9 The Most Dangerous Place in the World 161

Chapter 10 Driver Expire 194

Part 4 Life and Death: Libya, New York, India, London

Chapter 11 You Will Die Tonight 221

Chapter 12 He Was a Brother I Miss Dearly 242

Chapter 13 I Would Advise You Not to Travel 249

Chapter 14 Lukas 265

Afterword: Return to Iraq 271

Acknowledgments 275

Index 281

What People are Saying About This

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Legacy of Ashes and Enemies

- Tim Weiner

It's What I Do is as brilliant as Addario's pictures — and she's the greatest photographer of our war-torn time. She's been kidnapped, nearly killed, while capturing truth and beauty in the world's worst places. She's a miracle. So is this book.

From the Publisher

Kirkus (starred review): 
“A remarkable journalistic achievement from a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship winner that crystalizes the last 10 years of global war and strife while candidly portraying the intimate life of a female photojournalist. Told with unflinching candor, the award-winning photographer brings an incredible sense of humanity to all the battlefields of her life. Especially affecting is the way in which Addario conveys the role of gender and how being a woman has impacted every aspect of her personal and professional lives. Whether dealing with ultrareligious zealots or overly demanding editors, being a woman with a camera has never been an easy task. A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir that is as inspiring as it is horrific.

Publishers Weekly:
“A highly readable and thoroughly engaging memoir…. Addario’s memoir brilliantly succeeds not only as a personal and professional narrative but also as an illuminating homage to photojournalism’s role in documenting suffering and injustice, and its potential to influence public opinion and official policy.” 


“Addario has written a page-turner of a memoir describing her war coverage and why and how she fell into—and stayed in—such a dangerous job. This ‘extraordinary profession’—though exhilarating and frightening, it ‘feels more like a commitment, a responsibility, a calling’—is what she does, and the many photographs scattered throughout this riveting book prove that she does it magnificently.”

Tim Weiner, author of Legacy of Ashes and Enemies:
It’s What I Do is as brilliant as Addario’s pictures—and she’s the greatest photographer of our war-torn time. She’s been kidnapped, nearly killed, while capturing truth and beauty in the world’s worst places. She’s a miracle. So is this book.”

Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War:
“Lynsey Addario’s book is like her life: big, beautiful, and utterly singular. With the whole world as her backdrop, Addario embarks on an extraordinary adventure whose overriding effect is to remind of us what unites us all.”

Jon Lee Anderson, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Fall of Baghdad:
“A gifted chronicler of her life and times, Lynsey Addario stands at the forefront of her generation of photojournalists, young men and women who have come of age during the brutal years of endless war since 9/11. A uniquely driven and courageous woman, Addario is also possessed of great quantities of humor and humanity. It’s What I Do is the riveting, unforgettable account of an extraordinary life lived at the very edge.”

John Prendergast, founding director of the Enough Project:
“A life as a war photographer has few parallels in terms of risk and reward, fear and courage, pain and promise. Lynsey Addario has seen, experienced, and photographed things that most of us cannot imagine. The brain and heart behind her extraordinary photographic eye pulls us inexorably closer to the center of each story she pursues, no matter what the cost or danger.”

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It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book, her perspective on her life as a career minded women was wonderful. I enjoyed the ride of traveling along with her in her work. Very well done, I couldn't put it down, wonderful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
How many times have I mindlessly flipped through the glossy images of a magazine in a waiting room? Too many times...but never with the realization I have now. I will never look at a photograph of conflict and war the same way again.  It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War documents Lynsey Addario’s experiences as a combat journalist. This memoir presents more of a story than just what she has viewed through her camera though. It also documents her experience as a woman working in a man’s field, interesting cultural and political components in the many countries she has worked in, multiple kidnappings she has fallen victim to, her emotional journey related to what she has seen and personally experienced, and her life away from the camera: the life and people she comes home to when each job is done (that is if she doesn’t decide to take back-to-back assignments).  I admire Lynsey’s passion for what she does. She and all the other combat journalists out there literally risk their lives without protection to get a snapshot to the world. Their photojournalism allows us all to bear witness to history. Lynsey acknowledges that her work is both a huge responsibility and a privilege, and based on her memoir, it is evident that she does not take this lightly. Check out It's What I Do, and give yourself a whole new meaning to the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. “Trying to convey beauty in war was a technique to try to prevent the reader from looking away or turning the page in response to something horrible. I wanted them to linger, to ask questions.” My favorite quote: “Under it all however, are the things that sustain us and bring us together. The privilege of witnessing things that others do not. An idealistic belief that a photograph might affect people’s souls. The thrill of creating art and contributing to the world’s database of knowledge. When I return home and rationally consider the risks, the choices are difficult. But when I am doing my work, I am alive and I am me. It’s what I do. I am sure there are other versions of happiness but this one is mine.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lynsey Addario's story is amazing - her dedication to her craft and drive are impressive and make a true difference in the world. Living in the town in which she grew up made me really appreciate the juxtaposition of her idyllic suburban childhood with her passion for telling the world's ugliest truths and ability to put herself in such dangerous situations. Her story is definitely worth reading and I hope there will be another book in her future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have read in a while. Well written with a great story of one persons persuit of her passion. When done reading it I thought what would a book on my life titled "It's What I Do" would be about. Not as compelling a story as Linsey Addario,s is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall a great book with an interesting storyline. Amazing what a war photographer goes through and how it affects them; more so as a female photographer in a male dominated genre. Found myself "cheering" for her throughout the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago