Monday, February 16, 2015

It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario has been a war photographer for at least the past two decades. She has won numerous awards and recognition, including the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Prize, for her work. In this memoir she talks of her development from taking photos to being a Photographer. The experience of reading this book left me so grateful….”grateful for your service,” I suppose. People willing and able to do this kind of work inspire me. It can be fulfilling and exciting but it is work that never really returns the effort spent, especially for a woman.

In an interview with PBS Newshour Arts Correspondent Jeffrey Brown Addario tells us "it's a man's world." That sent a shiver through me. My great aunt used to tell me that, but I never believed it. Let's hope Addario meant "war is a man's business." That strikes me as about right.

Addario focused mainly on women, noncombatants, and refugees in war zones, though she did go to the front line when that was called for. She comes up against sexism time and again in her work as a war photographer in the Middle East and South Asia, but she just plows back in again, not quite oblivious, but unwilling to let it stop her. This is another thing I admire so much. She admits to fear. It is not lack of fear that propels the greatest among us, but that fear does not stop them.

This memoir of her time as a war correspondent is as gripping and informative as her photographic work has ever been. We can feel the stress and uncertainty before her decisions to cover Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan, or a village on the outskirts of major combat in Iraq or Libya. She is kidnapped twice, falls in love, has a child, all while holding fast to the notion that her work matters. She tells us how this is so, and we can understand, though many of us would have given it up long before. There is something to be said for those who persist.

I cannot recommend this book more highly. It is compulsively readable and completely unforgettable. Her writing is as beautiful and real and important as her photographs. She gives us hope, and a sort of strength and pride. Watch, witness, and never give up.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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