Apparent asthma attack felled Anthony Shadid

Journalist Anthony Shadid (middle right) interviewed residents of Embaba, a Cairo neighborhood, during the Egyptian revolution last year. Shadid, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for foreign reporting, died Thursday in Syria of an apparent asthma attack.

NEW YORK -- Anthony Shadid, a journalist who gave voice to those muffled by the turmoil around them, from Iraqi families enveloped in civil war to young Libyans spurred to take up arms against a dictator, died while doing just that -- reporting from Syria in defiance of official attempts to limit media coverage of the bloodshed there.

Shadid, who died Thursday at age 43, was stricken by an apparent asthma attack while preparing to leave Syria with his New York Times colleague, photographer Tyler Hicks. The newspaper said Shadid developed breathing problems while walking toward the border with Hicks and guides who had helped the pair slip into the country a few days earlier.

Although Shadid carried medication to manage his asthma, he also had a severe allergy to horses and was walking behind some when he had the attack, his father told The Associated Press. Shadid collapsed and died, despite Hicks' attempts to resuscitate him.

The photographer carried Shadid's body to Turkey, the Times reported.

Countless readers knew Shadid as one of the most prolific and poetic correspondents to cover the Middle East.

"It is no exaggeration to say that Shadid raised the bar for contemporary deadline war reporting in the Iraq conflict just as Ernie Pyle did as a correspondent in World War II," the Los Angeles Times said in a review of his 2005 book, "Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War."

Shadid won two Pulitzer Prizes, in 2004 and 2010, for his coverage of Iraq for The Washington Post. In 2004, judges cited 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."

Six years later they noted his focus on Iraq's people as they "struggle to deal with the legacy of war."

He began his career with AP, where his stories underscored the scars left by social upheaval. Describing the destruction of a once-thriving auto factory in Kenosha, Wis., in 1990, he wrote that its "towering smokestack crashed to the ground with curtain-closing finality."

Covering the plight of innocent victims caught up in gun violence, he told of a girl shot dead by a stray bullet while lying on her mother's bed on her ninth birthday.

It was a reporting style for which Shadid became known as he went on to cover the Middle East for the AP, Washington Post, Boston Globe and New York Times, which he joined in late 2009.

A Lebanese American who grew up in Oklahoma City, Shadid did not fit most outsiders' image of a foreign correspondent steeped in war.

He had been shot in the West Bank in 2002, abducted in Libya and chased countless times; he had published two books; and he had been decorated with countless awards.

But he rarely mentioned his exploits unless asked, and he seemed determined to use his experience to help others excel in a profession often known for fierce competition.

"Anthony was the kindest, most giving journalist I ever met," said Leila Fadel, the Washington Post bureau chief in Cairo, who was a Boston Globe news assistant when Shadid was overseas reporting for the newspaper.

"Most correspondents had no time to speak to an aspiring journalist still in college. Most didn't even have time to be polite," said Fadel. "But Anthony would ... always offer advice and time."