Politics & Polls #68: Captivity and Survival in Syria

Nov 29 2017
By B. Rose Kelly
Topics Politics
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Photographers are often on the front lines of war, risking their lives to document deadly conflict zones. One such photojournalist is Jonathan Alpeyrie, a French-American photographer who was captured and held hostage by Syrian rebels in 2013. 

In this episode, Alpeyrie describes his 81 days of being bound, blindfolded and beaten — an experience that forced him to question the value and risks of his career. He explains why, despite the violence thrust upon him, he chose to see the humanity in his captors, immersing himself in their culture, language and traditions.

This and more is explored in his new book, "The Shattered Lens: A War Photographer's True Story of Captivity and Survival in Syria,” published by Simon & Schuster in October 2017. 

Alpeyrie was born in Paris but moved to the United States when he was 14. His photography career stretches over more than a decade and has taken him to more than 25 countries, covering 14 conflict zones from the Middle East and North Africa to the South Caucasus and Central Asia. His work has been featured widely, from The New York Times to TIME to the BBC. He is now a staff photographer for Polaris Images and works as a fashion photographer with Elle and other local designers. He lives in New York City.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com.

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.