Unexpected death is always a sad shock. When death comes to one who is the father of two young children, a man who is contributing something positive to the world, it’s even more tragic. Death recently came for a man the world knows as Anthony Shadid, a writer and New York Times reporter. Shadid was covering the rebellion in Syria, but his heart was not stilled by a bullet or a rocket launched by the Syrian military.
Anthony Shadid risked his life to get to the truth of the current violence and rebellion in Syria. After personal witnessing, he was following horses down a path. The horses triggered an asthmatic reaction. Despite having the medicine that should have saved him, Anthony Shadid died at age 43, a man who should have covered many more stories, a man much too young to die. The date was February 16, 2012.
Death took a man needed by his family, and needed by the world. Honest reporters who have empathy for others are becoming more rare with each passing years. I believe that Anthony Shadid was such a man.
And so it came to be that on February 16, 2012, family and friends and peers made the horrifying discovery that they had reason to mourn.
From what I’ve been told, Anthony Shadid was a good man. And I’ve heard about Anthony from someone who knew him well, one of Anthony’s best friends, another good man whom Peter Sasson and I befriended while living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Hikmat Farha.
Over the past few years, Hikmat became one of Anthony’s closest friends. During telephone calls, Hikmat frequently mentioned that I must meet his friend Anthony Shadid. Hikmat knew that I would admire and respect Shadid just as much as he did. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Lebanon during the times that Shadid was in Lebanon.
My friend Hikmat was devastated by the loss of his friend, as were many others. Hikmat said that he had pleaded with Anthony not to go to Syria, that he had a bad feeling about the trip. But Anthony was a reporter who “couldn’t NOT go.” He felt that certain stories would never be told if he was not on the ground reporting. He was right.
Hikmat’s close friendship with Anthony came about because both men were connected to Jedeidet Marjayoun, a historic village in the south of Lebanon. While Hikmat’s family remained in Marjayoun, Anthony’s father left the area years ago and ended up, in all places, in the state of Oklahoma, where Anthony was born.
Hikmat’s family was forced to flee the area during Lebanon’s civil war, but always kept their properties there in the beautiful little village. Thankfully, Hikmat’s family also owned properties in Beirut and in Beit Meri, so they did have a place to stay during the years of raging war.
When Anthony Shadid returned to visit his homeland and the village of his family, he decided to rebuild his grandfather’s home in Marjayoun. This experience was the basis of a book, House of Stone, just released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.
I just read the book. It’s a great book, written with honesty and humor and an obvious love for the author’s country and heritage. I predict that it will be a bestseller, as it should be. I’m just sorry that the author is no longer around to enjoy the success of his heart-felt book. Bob Minzesheimer of USA Today wrote about the book and says that “Shadid found his way home in ‘House of Stone,’ “and “Before his death, reporter poured heart into book.”
I agree with Mr. Minzesheimer. Anthony Shadid did pour his heart and soul into a book about his family, his family’s village, and the home that he so painstakingly rebuilt, thinking that he would live out his life in that stone house.
It’s a worthy book and I recommend it highly. I only wish that Anthony Shadid had lived so that he might have gained many more experiences in his stone house in the quaint little village of Marjayoun, and so that he could relate even more stories about the interesting cast of characters he brought to life in the book. It’s a saga that this reader would have faithfully followed.
Please read additional information on the death of Anthony Shadid below:
Colleague recalls journalist Anthony Shadid’s last moments
Mon Mar 5, 2012 9:04am EST
LOS ANGELES, March 4 (TheWrap.com) – In his last moments, New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid knew that he faced danger from the horses that would lead him back to safety from Syria, over the border with Turkey.
But he had little choice but to press on.
“He will get through this as he did on the much more strenuous hike in, I thought,” wrote Shadid’s colleague Tyler Hicks in a front-page story in the New York Times on Sunday.
But Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, died of an allergy attack brought on by the horses on his way out of Syria in February after a weeklong reporting assignment.
Hicks’ account — unusual for a photographer — described a dangerous week with the Syrian rebels, who he called well organized. He and Shadid had worked in many strife-ridden zones before, but Shadid never got to write up his copious notes from this final trip.
In a moving tribute, Hicks described the dramatic, fatal scene after an initial asthma attack on the way into the country.
“Anthony’s health had been good during the week and he prepared himself for the trip down with antihistamines and a supply of inhalers,” Hicks wrote. “He had a black and white kaffiyeh covering his face to filter the air, the same one he had worn around his neck throughout the assignment. He told the young men he wouldn’t ride a horse and to walk ahead with them at a distance.
“‘Should we walk in front of the horses?’ I asked Anthony.
“‘No, they need to guide us,’ he said.
“The pace down was faster and easier than coming up a week earlier, and this time our bags were carried by horses instead of on our backs. But then I could hear that Anthony’s breathing became strained, and within a mile he was asking to rest. He will get through this as he did on the much more strenuous hike in, I thought, and with one of my arms around his waist, and the other holding his forearm, we continued to walk.
“Soon after, Anthony stopped and leaned against a large boulder, and unlike the first time, when he had merely labored for breath, now he collapsed onto the ground. I called out his name, but he was already unconscious and his breathing had stopped completely. I performed CPR for half an hour while begging the smugglers to find a doctor. I hoped for a miracle. Turkey was now out of the question, and backtracking would only return us to a remote border village. Finally, a small covered truck drove quietly within sight of us and we carried Anthony, whose death I could still not come to terms with, into the back, where I climbed in with him.”
Hicks later carried his friend’s body over the border.