• It's What I Do

  • A Photographer's Life of Love and War
  • By: Lynsey Addario
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,224 ratings)

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It's What I Do

By: Lynsey Addario
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
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Publisher's Summary

MacArthur Genius Grant winner Lynsey Addario's relentless pursuit of complex truths drive this heart-pounding and inspirational memoir of a photographer's life. 

Lynsey Addario is just finding her way as a young photographer when the events of September 11, 2001, change 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 will 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 in photography a way to travel with a purpose, and It's What I Do is the story of that singular calling - how it shapes and drives her life and how it changes the lives of others. She captures virtually every major theater of war of the 21st century and from it creates a historical document of truth on the international conflicts that have made and remade our world. She photographs the Afghan people before and after Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, and the burned villages and the countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting inside story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war. 

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 profession, 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 even 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. 

©2015 Lynsey Addario (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about It's What I Do

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A thrill ride from the beginning until the end!

What did you like best about this story?

I felt like I was right there with her, I was so caught up in the book that I didn't mind my commute home. I was also listening while running and ended up running much further than planned because I had to hear what was going to happen next. As a photojournalist Lynsey chased the story, and reported what she saw regardless of how she thought things should be. In other words she sought the truth and dug deeper below the surface, and didn't just take pictures portraying her preconceived idea. I doubt many people would do what she did. I kept finding myself thinking "who does this", then I remember that our troops go in to these dangerous places every day. I'm glad that people like Lynsey are there to document their story and to immortalize those who gave their life fighting for freedom.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Lynsey was reunited with her husband after being captured in Libya, I cried. I was so relieved for her!

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book. If you have ever wondered what journalists are doing in war zones, this book answers those questions and it provides more insight in to what they go through as a result. It also tells more of a personal story of our soldiers who risk their lives in the name of freedom but also how it impacts the civilians in war torn nations. Her visual language is so incredible I almost heard the bombs go off. Outstanding work!

19 people found this helpful

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Picture Perfect

Yes, I bought a book about photojournalism and Pulitzer Prize winning photographs as an Audible. Yes, I questioned my common sense - but I thought to myself, "If I don't like it, I can always return it. No one has to know I thought I could just listen to a book about pictures." And yes, this worked quite well as an Audible. It was a really good listen

Lynsey Addario's "It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War" (2015) tells the story of a girl and her camera, initially a Nikon FG that her father gave her. The camera body could use interchangeable lenses, as Addario learned on one of her first freelance assignments - as a paparazzo shooting Madonna in Argentina. Addario eventually convinced her father and his boyfriend to advance her dowry so she can buy photographic equipment and start her career. She figured she wasn't likely to get married anyway - but Addario eventually finds the love of her life, Paul de Bendern. de Bendern's a highly respected conflict journalist in his own right, and oh, happens to have a title. It's a hereditary title but his grandfather did something really righteous to earn it.

"It's What I Do" is a parable for the modern woman. Addario's an out and out genius - just ask the MacArthur Foundation, who made her a fellow. MacArthur 'genius grants' are awarded to individuals who have "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction". Addario's certainly deserving, but she questions her worthiness at every turn even when no one else does. Addario doesn't question her photographs - her subjects speak for themselves. Addario questions whether or not a woman can be a conflict photographer, not because of a lack of talent or drive, but because of how she is perceived and treated by men. Her concern is not the idle concern of a well educated woman's studies major, an armchair feminist - it's the real life worry of someone who works wearing a hijab in relatively liberal Muslim countries; and an abaya in more conservative countries.

Addario carefully watches an embedded colleague hide her pregnancy over a period of months, and wonders that a male Army officer asked, early on, what was probably obvious - how far along she was. As smart as Addario is, she didn't realize knowing a woman is expecting doesn't take eavesdropping on a satellite call - it just takes someone who's reasonably observant. She is conflicted about having children until she's kidnapped - for the second time. Perhaps her standards on when to have kids was a little high?

The first time Addario was kidnapped was in Iraq in 2004. The Iraqi kidnapping was disconcerting, but Addario was treated with respect and came through it relatively unscathed. In 2011, Addario was kidnapped with three other journalists, and repeatedly groped by Libyan captors over 5 days - and one of her male colleagues was sexually assaulted as well. Addario confesses to being so frightened she cried, equating tears to 'womanly weakness.' Yes, according to the PubMed Database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, women cry more readily than men - but published studies also show that crying releases adrenocorticotropic hormones, decreasing stress so people function better.

I do wish this Audible had come with a .pdf of some of Addario's photos. I was able to find a lot of those she referenced at her own website; at The New York Times; and at National Geographic. They were beautiful. I wish I could afford to buy prints, but doing that would make it hard for me to put my kids through college.

The narration was seamless.

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

14 people found this helpful

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Stunningly Intimate

Linsey's book explores both the deeply personal challenges of working as a conflict photographer as well as the technical and creative challenges of telling stories of conflict in an honest and unflinching manner. As a woman working in conflict zones some of the stories that she tells brought this reader to tears. Sometimes the tears are for the people whose suffering she is tasked with documenting. Sometimes the tears are for the loved ones who also pay a price for loving someone whose work is emotionally straining as well as profoundly important. Linsey grapples with the internal drive that compels her to push her own boundaries finding and telling these stories and often wondering whether this story will be her last. For anyone interested in understanding the blood, sweat and tears that go into the creation of images that illuminate the ragged edges of our world, Linsey lets us peer deep into her heart on every page. A must-read for photographers.

13 people found this helpful

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Engaging

Where does It's What I Do rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a solid addition to my audio list.

Who was your favorite character and why?

,,,,,this question is not meant for this work

Have you listened to any of Tavia Gilbert’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"All Guts"

Any additional comments?

This is not about Photo Composition or Exposure. Its an engaging read about the perils faced by journalists, specifically, female journalists, in trouble spots around the Globe. Even though I bought this for composition and exposure, I will still recommend, her stories of traveling around the globe,her kidnappings, romances and hardships in war torn rejoins sufficed.

12 people found this helpful

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Rethinking war

Ms Addario has compiled a superbly readable eye opener about hideousness of war. Her straight from the heart account opened my eyes to the brutality of war without gratuitous war scenarios that might interest to someone that finds battle scenes intriguing. That wouldn't be me!
I feel she got the loss and destruction of war across as well as the emotional consequences that maybe come a burden for generations.
Thank you Lynsey Addario. Hopefully many people will read this memoir and ask questions of just how important is brutalizing and destruction.

Barbara Michels

9 people found this helpful

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Thanks for sharing

What did you love best about It's What I Do?

Amazingly, I also have three sisters and their names are Leslie, Lisa and Lindsay. I thank Lynsey Addario for her intimate and courageous account of her experience and utter bravery. She quite nearly brought me to tears several times.

What was one of the most memorable moments of It's What I Do?

When Lynsey calls Elizabeth and she cannot stop crying. It is just amazing how moving her memories and visual history are, and that they both fuel and haunt her.

What about Tavia Gilbert’s performance did you like?

It really felt like the voice of the author. Personal, professional, and collected. Like someone able to be stoic, and able to clearly and without bias present the account as factual. Lynsey ended up seeming incredibly honest because of Tavia's performance.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The whole autobiography is really moving and inspirational. What it's like for a woman, a journalist on the front lines of war. I think sometimes, what little knowledge and insight men have with regard to the strength of women.

Any additional comments?

If you're ever looking for purpose in what you do, then try to invoke Lyndey's spirit. I hope that it will help you, the reader.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars
  • Al
  • 06-14-15

5 Stars If You Are A Working Photographer

Lynsey captures the life of a working photographer graphically, truthfully, and intelligently. If you are a working photographer you will love this book. It is difficult at times because of the graphic nature of the conflicts she covers, but it is well worth reading

7 people found this helpful

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What a different life she leads . . . .

I found this true story to be a very interesting and compelling listen. It gave me a great deal to think about. Lynsey Addario describes herself as a conflict photojournalist. She is an intense, career-driven woman who is fearless and intrepid and will not let anything stand in the way of her being able to cover international crisis, conflict and war, certainly not the fact that she is a woman in a mostly male profession, certainly not that she is very pregnant. That last fact gave me pause for concern and for a great deal of thought about how much things have changed since I was first entering the job world. It appears today's woman has many more opportunities, and as a result, different priorities and a different outlook on what is really important.

If you sense a hint of disapproval in my words, I am aware of this and trying to be open-minded and understanding of the differences in opportunities that are available to today's woman. And with these opportunities must come a whole new assessment of what has priority and what comes first in one's life.

The narration is perfectly adequate and fits the story well.

This is a book I would recommend without hesitation. Audible gives an excellent description of what to expect. Apparently, Spielberg has bought the rights and intends to make Lynsey's story into a movie. Thumbs up, I say!

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Difficult to like Addario; gripping nonetheless

Mixed feelings about this one. Lynsey Addario seems to want to portray herself as an empathic witness to human suffering, but I came away unconvinced. Her stories and her drive toward the high- stakes career of war photography were compelling, but I found her motivation more narcissistic than altruistic. I resented her negative portrayals of both the US and Israeli militaries, who are putting their lives on the line to defend democracy and their countries rather than what seems to attract her to the war zones: The conviction that her photos will impact US policy (while arguing simultaneously that there are hundreds of journalists in line for her assignments. )The narrator added to the shrill and self-righteous tone of the narrative. Nevertheless, l'd recommend it as an interesting listen if you want to understand what it is like to do this type of work....not boring.

5 people found this helpful

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A self indulgent story of a selfish anti-American

I'm not sure why this book has received positive reviews. This is the story of a self indulgent war photographer who matches the stereotypical New York Times reporter who looks down on our heroic soliders and idealizes our radical Islamic enemies. Ms. Addario believes that America (and Israel for that matter) is a force for evil and that the Taliban and other radicals only want the best for their country and to be left alone -- maybe she has forgotten about 9/11 or the countless Islamic terrorist attacks which have occured. Ironically, when she is trapped in a firefight, she is saved by the very American soldiers which she damns elsewhere in her book. Unbelievably, this prototypical "if it bleeds, it leads" journalist actually hopes that the U.S. soliders with which she is embedded will come under fire so she will have better pictures. Ms. Addario wants readers to believe that she is heroic for taking reckless risks to herself and her guides (which leads to two of their deaths) rather than the true heroes who protect us from the world's barbarians. Those, by the way, would be the same monsters whom she thinks are "the most hospitable people in the world."

Aside from her distasteful anti-western politics, Ms. Addario comes across as a selfish, unfit mother. While her husband and previous partners (both married and unmarried) are adults and can chose to accept the risks in which she places herself, her unborn and then born, child cannot. The choice of becoming a parent means that one needs to make certain sacrifices, and not going into dangerous war and disease zones seems like pretty basic ones (regardless of whether you are a father or a mother). There is nothing admirable about a six month pregnant women choosing to put herself at very real risk and yet, she is effectively seeking recognition for having done so. I am sincerely shocked that someone would be so cavalier about her baby's life or need for him to have a mother.

It would seem, however, like Ms. Addario is a skilled photographer. Unfortunately the audiobook does not include a PDF of her work. Had there been photographs, there might have been something redeemable about this work.

4 people found this helpful