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Anthony Shadid: Quite simply the best

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Ed Ou/The New York Times/AP/File

(Read caption) In this February 2011 file photo provided by The New York Times, Times journalist Anthony Shadid, middle right, interviews residents of Embaba, a lower class Cairo neighborhood, during the Egyptian revolution. Shadid, the Middle East correspondent for The New York Times, died Thursday of natural causes while on a reporting assignment in Syria.

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Anthony Shadid, the Middle East correspondent for The New York Times who died Thursday of natural causes while on a reporting assignment in Syria, was, quite simply, the best.

The quality and depth of his reporting from across the region, particularly Iraq, was peerless, leaving the rest of us regional foreign correspondents stumbling in his wake in rueful admiration of his bravery, modesty, and innate talent. Perhaps part of that talent came from the fact that while he grew up in America, he was of Lebanese descent and thus had a cultural affinity with the region he was covering.

Although he began reporting from the region from 1995, first with the Associated Press in Cairo, then The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, it was in Iraq where he rightly achieved renown. Reading Anthony’s work, one sensed that he had an ability to shut himself off from the pressures of deadlines and the demands for instant analysis to take the time and thought to patiently locate, extract, and expose the soul of a story.

He did this with unforgettable and moving portraits of individual people attempting to cope with the rigors and fears of life in post-2003 Iraq. These elegantly written and nuanced reports, which became his trademark, offered a far more compelling and powerful insight into the realities of Iraq than the pedestrian daily accounts of the ebb and flow of the conflict.

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