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The Shattered Lens

A War Photographer's True Story of Captivity and Survival in Syria

About The Book

A “gripping and personal view of war” (Andy McNab, author of Bravo Two Zero), from a celebrated photojournalist—who spent time in Ukraine in 2014 and documented the turmoil that led to Russia’s invasion—crafts a powerful memoir about his experiences in some of the world’s most dangerous, war-torn areas, and his terrifying capture by Syrian rebels in 2013.

For a decade, Jonathan Alpeyrie—a French‑American photojournalist—had ventured in and out of more than a dozen conflict zones. He photographed civilians being chased out of their homes, military trucks roving over bullet‑torn battlefields, and too many bodies to count. But on April 29, 2013, during his third assignment to Syria, Alpeyrie became the story.

For eighty‑one days he was bound, blindfolded, and beaten by Syrian rebels. Over the course of his captivity, Alpeyrie kept his spirits up and strove to find the humanity in his captors. He took part in their activities, taught them how to swim, prayed with them, and tried learning their language and culture. He also discovered a dormant faith within himself, one that strengthened him throughout the ordeal.

The Shattered Lens is a firsthand account that “reads like a thriller” (The New York Journal of Books) by a photojournalist who has always answered the next adrenaline‑pumping assignment. Yet, during his headline‑making kidnapping and “for all his suffering, Alpeyrie expresses, in words and color photographs, the compassion of a global citizen seeing beyond his personal terror and into the nuances of human interactions” (Booklist).

About The Authors

Jonathan Alpeyrie was born in Paris but moved to the United States when he was fourteen years old. His photography career stretches over a decade, and has brought him to more than thirty-five countries, covering fourteen conflict zones, from the Middle East and North Africa to Ukraine and Central Asia. His work has been featured widely, from the New York Times to Time to the BBC. He is a staff photographer for Polaris Images and also has been working as a fashion photographer with Elle and various local designers.  He is currently in Ukraine photographing the 2022 Russian invasion. He lives in New York City.


Stash Luczkiw is a New York-born poet and translator based in Italy, where he works as the editor of Longitude, a monthly geopolitical magazine.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 10, 2017)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501146541

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Raves and Reviews

“A gripping and a personal view of war by someone who has been there.”

– Andy McNab, author of Bravo Two Zero

“A chilling tale about how [Alpeyrie] managed to win the fragile esteem of his captors while simultaneously keeping his fried nerves from completely shorting out, as well as his personal take on armed conflict and global jihad. A gripping account of life in captivity and humankind's ongoing relationship to war.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"[Alpeyrie] offers frank discussions about the illusion of freedom and the lure of violence, and . . . a touching appreciation for the parental love and support he receives . . . Harrowing."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"For all his suffering, Alpeyrie expresses, in words and color photographs, the compassion of a global citizen seeing beyond his personal terror and into the nuances of human interactions."

– Booklist

"A thrilling memoir."

– Library Journal

"The Shattered Lens sometimes reads like a thriller. There are times your heart feels like it’s in your throat… But it is photojournalists like Alpeyrie that give us a glimpse into the true horrors of war. And as they risk their lives every day to accomplish very dangerous tasks, they can be considered both courageous and brilliant by bringing the chaos to the world at large, which would otherwise be hidden."

– New York Journal of Books

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