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

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

Published by the Penguin Group

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A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2015

Copyright © 2015 by Lynsey Addario

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Photograph credits

All images, unless credited below, are by Lynsey Addario.

Pages
16
–19: © Bryan Denton;
24
,
26
,
27
,
31
: Courtesy of the author;
144
: Photo by Chang W. Lee / The New York Times / Redux;
204
: © Bruce Chapman;
268
–270: © Landon Nordeman;
300
: Publicly distributed handout, courtesy of Associated Press

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Addario, Lynsey.

It’s what I do : a photographer’s life of love and war / Lynsey Addario.

pages cm

Includes index.

ISBN 978-1-101-59906-8

1. Addario, Lynsey. 2. War photographers—United States—Biography. 3. Women photographers—United States—Biography. 4. War photography—20th century. I. Title.

TR140.A265A3 2015

779.092—dc23

[B] 2014036653

This is a work of nonfiction. Nonetheless, some of the names and personal characteristics of the individuals involved have been changed. Any resulting resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone.

Version_1
For Paul and Lukas, my two loves

Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prelude
AJDABIYA, LIBYA, MARCH 2011

PART ONE
DISCOVERING THE WORLD:
CONNECTICUT, NEW YORK, ARGENTINA, CUBA, INDIA, AFGHANISTAN

CHAPTER 1

No Second Chances in New York

CHAPTER 2

How Many Children Do You Have?

CHAPTER 3

We Are at War

PART TWO
THE 9/11 YEARS:
PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ

CHAPTER 4

You, American, Are Not Welcome Here Anymore

CHAPTER 5

I Am Not as Worried About Bullets

CHAPTER 6

Please Tell the Woman We Will Not Hurt Her

PART THREE
A KIND OF BALANCE:
SUDAN, CONGO, ISTANBUL, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, FRANCE, LIBYA

CHAPTER 7

Women Are Casualties of Their Birthplace

CHAPTER 8

Do Your Work, and Come Back When You Finish

CHAPTER 9

The Most Dangerous Place in the World

CHAPTER 10

Driver Expire

PART FOUR
LIFE AND DEATH:
LIBYA, NEW YORK, INDIA, LONDON

CHAPTER 11

You Will Die Tonight

CHAPTER 12

He Was a Brother I Miss Dearly

CHAPTER 13

I Would Advise You Not to Travel

CHAPTER 14

Lukas

Afterword
RETURN TO IRAQ

Acknowledgments

Index

Prelude

AJDABIYA, LIBYA, MARCH 2011

In the perfect light of a crystal-clear morning, I stood outside a putty- colored cement hospital near Ajdabiya, a small city on Libya’s northern coast, more than five hundred miles east of Tripoli. Several other journalists and I were looking at a car that had been hit during a morning air strike. Its back window had been blown out, and human remains were splattered all over the backseat. There was part of a brain on the passenger seat; shards of skull were embedded in the rear parcel shelf. Hospital employees in white medical uniforms carefully picked up the pieces and placed them in a bag. I picked up my camera to shoot what I had shot so many times before, then put it back down, stepping aside to let the other photographers have their turn. I couldn’t do it that day.

It was March 2011, the beginning of the Arab Spring. After Tunisia and Egypt erupted into unexpectedly euphoric and triumphant revolutions against their longtime dictators—millions of ordinary people shouting and dancing in the streets in celebration of their newfound freedom—Libyans revolted against their own homegrown tyrant, Muammar el-Qaddafi. He had been in power for more than forty years, funding terrorist groups across the world while he tortured, killed, and disappeared his fellow Libyans. Qaddafi was a maniac.

I hadn’t covered Tunisia and Egypt, because I was on assignment in Afghanistan, and it had pained me to miss such important moments in history. I wasn’t going to miss Libya. This revolution, however, had quickly become a war. Qaddafi’s famously thuggish foot soldiers invaded rebel cities, and his air force pounded fighters in skeletal trucks. We journalists had come without flak jackets. We hadn’t expected to need our helmets.

My husband, Paul, called. We tried to talk once a day while I was away, but my Libyan cell phone rarely had a signal, and it had been a few days since we’d spoken.

“Hi, my love. How are you doing?” He was calling from New Delhi.

“I’m tired,” I said. “I spoke with David Furst”—my editor at the
New York Times
—“and asked if I could start rotating out in about a week. I’ll head back to the hotel in Benghazi this afternoon and try to stick around there until I pull out. I’m ready to come home.” I tried to steady my voice. “I’m exhausted. I have a bad feeling that something is going to happen.”

Opposition troops fire at a government helicopter as it sprays the area with machine-gun fire. The opposition was pushed back east, out of Bin Jawad toward Ras Lanuf, the day after taking Ras Lanuf back from troops loyal to Qaddafi in eastern Libya, March 6, 2011.

I didn’t tell him that the last few mornings I had woken up reluctant to get out of bed, lingered too long over my instant coffee as my colleagues and I prepared our cameras and loaded our bags into our cars. While covering war, there were days when I had boundless courage and there were days, like these in Libya, when I was terrified from the moment I woke up. Two days earlier I had given a hard drive of images to another photographer to give to my photo agency in case I didn’t survive. If nothing else, at least my work could be salvaged.

“You should go back to Benghazi,” Paul said. “You always listen to your instincts.”

Rebels call for volunteers to fight in Benghazi, March 1, 2011.

A rebel fighter consoles his wounded comrade outside the hospital in Ras Lanuf, March 9, 2011.

Rebel fighters and drivers look up into the sky in anticipation of a bomb and incoming aircraft, March 10, 2011.

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