#FridayReads: Anthony Shadid, RIP
It came as something of a shock to learn of the death last night of Anthony Shadid, perhaps the finest journalist of his generation and certainly the best English-language reporter at work in the Middle East. Shadid, who survived being shot by Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, the American “shock and awe” campaign in 2003, and a kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in Libya this past year, died of an asthma attack while exiting Syria yesterday. Shadid exhibited all the attributes we expect from journalists, but rarely get. He was courageous, meticulous, and honest in his handling of the truth. By all accounts, Shadid was also a true gentleman, not to mention a wonderful writer. His book on the Iraq war, Night Draws Near—a heartrending, gorgeous work—remains, for me, the gold-standard of reporting from that hideous period in our recent past. Without even a hint of cliche, it’s clearly fair to conclude that his loss is our own, and that his voice–which spoke for those that could not, and to those who seek greater clarity about those things we often barely understand–will be missed and mourned.
Countless friends and colleagues of Shadid’s have already publicly offered their remembrances, and many more will likely continue weighing in over the days to come. I’ve collected some of the better ones that have appeared so far, as well as some examples of the work that distinguished the man from his peers in the field, and other odds and end. Anthony Shadid, RIP.
- Steve Coll pays tribute to Shadid’s life and career at the New Yorker.
- George Packer also remembers Shadid in the New Yorker.
- Asad AbuKhalil, not exactly known for embracing the work of New York Times‘ reporters in the Middle East, offered these reflections on Shadid. Says Asad, “Now that he is no more with us, I can cite from a message he wrote to me in response to a critical post I had: “i don’t want this on your blog, asad, but are you really calling me a zionist stooge? for fuck sake. how many times have i risked my life covering israeli atrocities. i’m exhausting myself trying to get some kind of balance into these syria stories and no one will go on the record about the awful stuff that happened in jisr al-shughour…you know, as’ad, i love what you do. but i think your take on people like nada and me trying to change the way journalism is done is naive. do you really think we’re sitting like schoolchildren before our editors? we have a different take on activism.”
- Bobby Ghosh looks back on his fleeting encounters with and enduring admiration for Anthony Shadid in Time.
- Michael Hastings has these reflections in Rolling Stone.
- Shadid won a Pulitzer for this astounding work, and these pieces submitted by the Washington Post in support of his nomination: “In Iraq, the Day After,” “New Paths to Power Emerge in Iraq,” “‘No One Values the Victims Anymore,’” “On a Trip From Baghdad to Basra, A Journey Back in Time,” “US Occupation Will End, But Its Cultural Influences Will Live On,” “Worries about A Kurdish-Arab Rivalry Move to Fore in Iraq,” “In Anbar, US-Allied Tribal Chiefs Feel Deep Sense of Abandonment,” “In Iraq, Din of War Gives Way to Mundanities of Withdrawal” and “2003 US Raid in Iraqi Town Serves as a Cautionary Tale.”
- “Restoring Names to War’s Unknown Casualties,” is an unforgettable, devastating piece of journalism.
- Another example of Shadid’s excellent reporting from Iraq, “The City of Cement.”
- Shadid and the three other journalists he was kidnapped with in Libya last fall provided this harrowing account of the ordeal after being released.
- His obituary in the Times can be accessed here.
- Shadid’s colleagues at the Washington Post offered their memories from his time at the paper here.
- The American Journalism Review ran a profile of Shadid in 2004, detailing the trials of being a foreign war correspondent.
- Shadid’s latest, and last, book, House of Stone is slated to be released next month, on March 27. Of it, Dave Eggers has this to say: “Six pages into this book, I said to myself, if Anthony Shadid continues like this, this book will be a classic. And page by page, he did continue, and he wrote a honest-to-God, hands-down, undeniable and instant classic. This is a book about war, and terrible loss, and a troubled region, and his own tattered family history, yes, but it’s written with the kind of levity and candor and lyricism we associate with, say, Junot Diaz—and that makes the book, improbably, both a compulsive read and one you don’t want to end. I have no idea how Shadid pulled all this off while talking about the history of modern Lebanon, how he balanced ribald humor and great warmth with the sorrow woven into a story like this, but anyway, we should all be grateful that he did.”