Anthony Shadid made his mark on the world writing about the ordinary people caught up in the violence, oppression, and greed that have plagued the Middle East over the past two decades.
When he died yesterday, at age 43, after crossing into restricted Syria to cover the uprising there, one story still left to tell was his own.
The reporter, who worked for The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and won two Pulitzers for his work, was set to publish House of Stone on March 27, a memoir about his experience trying to regroup after a decade of war coverage while rebuilding a home in Lebanon that once belonged to his great-grandfather.
Today, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced it would move up publication to Feb. 28.
The chance to read him again is a small consolation for the many who knew him, if only through his words …
“I don’t call myself a war correspondent,” Shadid said on NPR’s On Point last year. “I don’t enjoy covering war. I do want to cover the Middle East and I do find it very necessary and important to cover the Arab world. And when conflict becomes part of that story, then I feel obligated to cover it.”
I knew Shadid as the news editor of the Los Angeles bureau of the Associated Press in the late ’90s and very early 2000s. Though it was perhaps the least-storied chapter of his extraordinary life, which after 9/11 would include being shot, beaten, threatened, and arrested while covering everything from the war in Iraq to the ongoing Arab Spring, it was a window into a mind that used curiosity to bridge the differences between people.
This Christian-raised, Lebanese-American boy from Oklahoma City was fascinated with the Middle East, learned fluent Arabic, and sought to become an international correspondent there back when the Cold War was still holding the world’s attention. Had it not been for the region’s volatility, Shadid surely would have devoted his life to it still, only with more joyful stories.
Sometimes he found them anyway.
Among the many remarkable articles Shadid wrote over the years, here is a comical 1997 piece he was particularly proud of from his days as an AP correspondent: `If you’re going to be kidnapped, Yemen is the place’