Anthony Shadid: House of Stone

Anthony Shadid was a New York Times correspondent in the Middle East who died last week. This essay is adapted from his forthcoming memoir, “House of Stone.”

Anthony Shadid in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_07 Feb. 19 21.56The America that drew my family was 7,000 miles from where they started, in old Marjayoun, in what is now Lebanon.

My aunts and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents, were part of a century-long wave of migration that occurred as the Ottoman Empire crumbled, then fell, around the time of World War I. In the hinterland of what was then part of Greater Syria, the war marked years of violent anarchy that made bloodshed casual. Disease was rife. So was famine. Hundreds of thousands starved in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and beyond. My family’s region was not spared. A survey of 182 villages in the area showed that a fourth of the homes withered into wartime ruin, and more than a third of the people who had inhabited them had died.

This horrific decade and its aftermath provoked villagers — including my family — to abandon their homes for locations ranging from South America to West Africa to Australia, as well as a few neighborhoods in Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.

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