This month, our book club voted to read It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, a memoir by Lynsey Addario.
Addario is a photojournalist who has covered war and some of the worst atrocities in the world, going to Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. Along the way, she fell in love, got married, and had a child.
Addario spent time in Afghanistan covering the plight of Afghan women before September 11. Because she had previous experience in Afghanistan, she was one of the first journalists to go to to Afghanistan after September 11. She was also on the front lines of journalists when America invaded Iraq. She witnessed the fall of Saddam Hussein, met Taliban leaders, and spent time with the US military.
Addario consistently puts herself in some of the world’s most dangerous places, knowing that the cost of her work could be high.
She does this all for the pursuit of the truth. She does this because she needs to know what is really going on, and because she wants the world know, too. She knows the power that a photograph on the cover of The New York Times could have on shaping international ideas about people and places and controversial topics. She cannot sit at home while there is war, feeling a need inside her to be there to capture it.
In her memoir, Addario also writes a lot about being a woman in an industry that is not particularly kind to women, working in parts of the world where she was not always welcome.
I loved Addario’s story and I love that she was able to overcome so much to pursue her passion. There were also times where I didn’t necessarily agree with her but I tried to be as objective as possible, knowing that I would never ever be able to do the things she has done. I have an immense respect for her. Still, I didn’t like when she said things like she was silently hoping for a gun battle while photographing a military unit. Why even write that? I would never hope for something like that.
There are costs to Addario’s work. She knows this. Her colleagues have died. One of her drivers was killed and she feels an immense responsibility for it. She has been kidnapped twice and assaulted. When she was pregnant with her son, she went to Africa, knowing that she was putting herself and her child in danger, knowing that if anything happened to her while she was there, she would be written off as crazy or irresponsible and might never get work again.
But when she sees war happening, when she sees people suffering, Addario has to be there. She wants her images to make people think twice about the news that they are receiving, maybe influence people’s opinions, and maybe even influence foreign policy.
I think that it’s easy to criticize Lynsey Addario for her choices, but they have always been hard choices for her to make. She knows the risks and still goes to war to photograph these images. I think that the world needs people like Lynsey Addario. The pursuit of the truth and knowledge is so important, especially in today’s world. Someone needs to remember the young men sent overseas to fight in war. Someone needs to document the casualties of war. Someone needs to exposes the violence against women in the Congo. Someone needs to be there. Someone needs to remember.
The book itself is beautiful, with high quality glossy paper and tons of her images specked trough. Her images are incredible. They capture humanity. They capture war. They make real for us things that we can never imagine going through, and I think that is important.
Without people like Addario, we wouldn’t have these images. I think that her work can make us more compassionate, more empathetic. I think that this is an important book and I highly recommend it.
Have you read It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War? What did you think? Link up your post!
I totally agree with you! I really admired her for going into these war torn countries to find the truth and document it for us back home. I know that I couldn’t do that, but I’m so glad that she can. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a woman and working in the areas that she has visited, and to be assaulted like she was.
I think that the part about hoping for a gun battle and some of the other things that she said about the US troops didn’t sit well with me at all. I would never wish potentially putting people in harms way for a story, but then again that’s her job.
This was a great choice for book club this month! I’m thinking that I need to go and at least browse through the physical copy of the book so I can see some of her pictures!
Ashley, thanks so much for being a part of our book club. I love reading your reviews and getting your perspective! I think this was a great book club pick because it was a little bit controversial and leaves a lot to be discussed. Addario is an incredible woman and even though we don’t necessarily agree on some things, I think that what she does is so important.
I have not read Addario’s book but greatly admire her photography! I was pleased when I saw her featured in the National Geographic Museum’s exhibit (DC) of women photojournalists. Sounds like I may need to pick up her memoir.
Oh wow, Kari, that must have been an amazing exhibit! I loved that her book included so many important photos. One of the things I loved most about her book was that she would be talking about a specific photo or place or time and there would be one of her photos of whatever she was talking about right there. I think it made me understand what she went through a lot more. If you are a fan of her work I think you would enjoy this book!