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The Powerful, Lyrical Writing of Journalist Anthony Shadid (1968-2012)

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He won his second Pulitzer in 2010 also for his reporting on Iraq for The Washington Post. He was a finalist for the prize in 2007 for his coverage of Lebanon; the New York Times had nominated him for his coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings throughout the Middle East in the past year.

Many have written moving tributes to Shadid. This excerpt from his last piece for the New York Times about Libya’s new government’s struggles to control the powerful militias sets his reporting about the current realities in Libya against a broader historical and cultural framework:

Like Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east, Libya is confronting a diversity Colonel Qaddafi denied so strenuously that he tried to convince the minority Berbers that they were, in fact, Arabs. The revolution has its variation on this theme, appeals that mirror the fears of social fracturing. “No to discord” and “No to tribalism,” declare slogans that adorn the streets.

They all hint at the truth that the Libyan author Hisham Matar evoked in his first novel, “In the Country of Men,” when he wrote, “Nationalism is as thin as a thread, perhaps that’s why many feel that it needs to be anxiously guarded.” Authority here peels like an onion, imposed by militias bearing the stamp of towns elsewhere in the west, neighborhoods in the capital, even its streets.

“Where is the rule of law?” asked Ashraf al-Kiki, a vendor who had gone to a police station, the Tripoli Military Council and a militia from Zintan in pursuit of compensation after militiamen shot holes in his car. The scent of the kebab he grilled wafted over speakers playing the national anthem. “This is the rule of force, not the rule of law.”

The New York Times has gathered excerpts from Shadid’s writing. As the newspaper’s former executive editor and columnist Bill Keller says,

“Anthony was first and foremost a witness — an incomparable, reliable witness.”


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5:03AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Thanks for the article.

6:48PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

may he rest in peace

4:06PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

He will be missed. Men of integrity always are.

3:38PM PST on Feb 20, 2012


1:47PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

Too young to die. Shame.

1:46PM PST on Feb 20, 2012


1:36PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

The tradition of a war corespondent who risks his life to tell the world about the plight of the people caught up in the conflict is a dying breed. We cannot afford to lose people like Mr Shadid.

He will be missed.

1:14PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

I did not know anything about him. But to do the brave acts he did, he must have been a good person.

1:13PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

I did not know anything about him. But to do the brave acts he did, he must have been a good person.

12:42PM PST on Feb 20, 2012

He truly was a gifted, dedicated and passionate journalist and person that will be missed very much. May he rest in peace.

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