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

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It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War
368 pages; Penguin Press
After 9/11, Lynsey Addario strapped on 20 pounds of Nikon and spent the next decade shooting hot spots around the world. Now the MacArthur Award winner has written It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War, an adrenaline-filled account of her life and work.

Addario is among a group of peripatetic journalists who share an appetite for risk. Each day she seems to bounce from fear to sober determination, from "This is insane. What am I doing?" to "I am watching these people fighting to their death for their freedom."

As she navigates the male-dominated theaters of war and journalism, we learn about the men with whom she embeds—and beds down. Her internal conflicts are as vivid as the battles she covers: In the space of a day (or a page), Addario might move from salsa dancing in Baghdad to capturing the raw grief born of the discovery of mass graves. At times, her gender shields her; at others, it leaves her open to risks different from any her male colleagues face. She is advised not to look Afghan men in the eye, and more than once a chador saves her. When Addario and several other journalists are nabbed by Libyan thugs, she is felt up repeatedly while the men in her group are beaten with the butts of AK-47s. Throughout, Addario ponders why she is drawn to this work. "We keep reporting until that unknowable last second before injury, capture, death. We are greedy by nature," she concludes.

Addario lays bare the reality that conflict journalism is a messy business full of mixed motives and unpredictable outcomes. In the end, what keeps her going are the deeply human stories her camera tells.
— Holly Morris