February 17, 2012KR BlogBlogRemembrances

“If you’re not there, the story won’t be told”: Anthony Shadid (1968–2012)

Yesterday brought the profoundly sad news that the extraordinary journalist Anthony Shadid has passed away, at the age of 43, apparently of an asthma attack suffered while on assignment in Syria. Shadid’s 2005 book Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War is essential reading, a devastating, beautiful, and urgent work. It’s such a rich and deeply felt account that I found I had to read it absurdly slowly, best able to encounter it only a few pages at a time. Shadid was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his journalism; the 2004 prize committee commended him “for his extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of Iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled and their way of life upended.” Like many others I will miss reading him, miss his perspective on events in the Middle East, and wish we could have shared in his gifts longer.

Here is an excerpt of one of Shadid’s interviews with Democracy Now, given shortly after he’d been released from capture by Qaddafi’s forces in Libya last spring, and in which he discusses the Arab Spring and the violent, troubled history of US involvement in the Middle East.