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House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East Hardcover – February 28, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547134665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547134666
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

House of Stone is not a work of Middle East reportage; it is, rather, a memoir, devoted to Shadid's deeply personal quest to uncover his heritage in war-torn Lebanon . . . Shadid's great skill as a journalist was that of a master storyteller, and he's never been more effective than in his final book. The work essentially belongs to the tradition of non-fiction belles lettres, as noteworthy for its style and prose elegance as for its subject matter. —Hussein Ibish


"Six pages into this book, I said to myself, if Anthony Shadid continues like this, this book will be a classic. And page by page, he did continue, and he wrote a honest-to-God, hands-down, undeniable and instant classic. This is a book about war, and terrible loss, and a troubled region, and his own tattered family history, yes, but it’s written with the kind of levity and candor and lyricism we associate with, say, Junot Diaz — and that makes the book, improbably, both a compulsive read and one you don’t want to end. I have no idea how Shadid pulled all this off while talking about the history of modern Lebanon, how he balanced ribald humor and great warmth with the sorrow woven into a story like this, but anyway, we should all be grateful that he did."

— Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun and What Is the What


"Anthony Shadid’s beautifully rendered memoir is a rich account of a man’s gradual immersion into the world of the Middle East and the culture of the Levant, a kingdom almost unrecognizable today, where the rooms and hallways of his great-grandfather’s house tell stories that will linger with every reader for decades."

— André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt


"House of Stone is poignant, aching, and at times laugh-out-loud funny . . . Shadid's writing is so lyrical it's like hearing a song."

— David Finkel, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good Soldier


"House of Stone is a haunting, beautifully realized piece of writing."

— Nick Flynn, author of The Ticking Is the Bomb


"What a beautiful introduction to a world that I knew so little about. House of Stone is engaging, poignant, and funny."

— Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone


"I was captivated, instantly, by Anthony Shadid's lushly evocative prose. Crumbling Ottoman outposts, doomed pashas, and roving bandits feel immediate, familiar, and relevant. Lose yourself in these pages, where empires linger, grandparents wander, and a battered Lebanon beckons us home. Savor it all. If Márquez had explored nonfiction, Macondo would feel as real as Marjayoun."

— Dave Cullen, author of Columbine


"Evocative and beautifully written, House of Stone . . . should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the agonies and hopes of the Middle East."

— Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate


"In rebuilding his family home in southern Lebanon, Shadid commits an extraordinarily generous act of restoration for his wounded land, and for us all."

— Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey


"Few books provide such a subtle, yet powerful insight into the tragedy of today’s Middle East."

— Amin Maalouf, author of Origins: A Memoir


"A riveting, soulful, and candid journey . . ."

— Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah

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Customer Reviews

The prose is beautiful and the character are richly drawn and described.
Nancy Mehegan
The history of Shadid's family in Lebanon and Oklahoma is fascinating, the story of the house is beautiful and funny and heartbreaking.
All in all, though, this is a wonderful, intensely personal book by an immensely talented writer.
Daffy Du

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 105 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...literally means "house" in Arabic. Due to the "root" structure of words in Arabic, there are additional connotations, and in this case, one of them is literally "roots": a sense of the community that nourished you. Anthony Shadid is an American of Lebanese origin; he is also a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Like Alex Haley a generation earlier, whose book and TV mini-series is literally entitled (Roots), Shadid went back to his ancestral home in the village of Marjayoun, which, in Arabic, means "Field of Springs." My pre-release Vine copy does not contain a map of the region, a deficiency that will hopefully be remedied in the final version. Nonetheless, I checked a map, because the village's location explains so much: it is only 10 km from Israel, and only 10 km from Syria, with views of often snow-covered Mt. Hermon. The Litani River is nearby, and after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Marjayoun was in the Israeli-occupied zone until the year 2000. Major Saad Haddad, of the South Lebanon Army, and an active Israeli collaborator, lived for a number of years in Shadid's ancestral home.

One of the narrative threads of the book, always printed in italics, is the history of the Marjayoun area, dating back roughly a century and a half. It is enough to make you nostalgic for the Ottoman Empire! The sharp political demarcations of today: Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan and Iraq did not exist. Marjayoun served as several cross-roads, and trading with the Bedouin (as well as the occasional raids) was frequent. The author works in the tentative link, seemingly of all the Arabs throughout the Middle East, that their family's northern migration dates back to the breaking of the Marib Dam in Yemen, as mentioned in the Koran, in the 6th Century.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Joan A. Adamak VINE VOICE on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author, an American of Lebanese ethnic descent, and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times and Washington Post, after being wounded by an Israeli sniper and a painful divorce, decided to seek his roots and restore his grandfather Isber Samara's stone house in an elite section of Jedeidet Marjayoun, Lebanon. This home, in Lebanese known as a "bayt" encompasses home, roots, center and essence of the family. Being over a century old, it was hit by mortar fire during the first Israeli-Lebanese war and almost destroyed except for much of the extensive stone and tile construction.

Lebanon, as well as several other middle eastern countries, was once part of the Ottoman Empire until it collapsed after WWI. The French originally established Lebanon as a country, which the Israelis challenged by going to war to recover some territory. Thereafter Lebanon was torn apart again during fifteen years of civil war.

These wars affected the people of that country in many ways, creating a Lebanese persona that only another Lebanese can understand. Isber Samara, although originally having been poor, through his own labors became a wealthy man and built this elaborate stone house for his family. Because of these ongoing wars and fearful for his family's lives, he sent his wife and six children to the United States where they settled in Oklahoma, along with other relatives.

With great dexterity the author weaves the past history and culture of these people with the present through the use of flashbacks.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'Remember The Past, Remember Marjayoun, Remember Who You Are' Isber's House, Anthony Shadid

Note: Anthony Shadid died in Syria on February 16, 2012. He was reporting on the war as it took place. May he rest in peace.

One year ago on March 16, 2011, Anthony and three colleagues had been detained in Libya and suffered imprisonment and beatings until they were released a few days later. Mr. Shadid understood that danger was always around the corner. Anthony Shadid is a two time Pulitzer Prize journalist for the New York Times.

In this book, Anthony Shadid tells us of his family history and the generational home in Majayoun, Lebanon. This is an estate built by his great-grandfather, and Anthony returned to Marjayoun and rebuilt this home for himself, his family and the generations of relatives who had died and those yet to come. He owned but a small piece of this house, but he felt a need to rejuvenate his soul and this new home. This is a mostly loving tale of the resurrection of this home, and the obstacles and issues that everyone who re-builds a home relates in sad and funny detail. We learn of Anthony's immediate family and his life in Oklahoma, Boston and New York City.

Life in Lebanon today is not easy. Anthony Shadid takes us to his homeland, and we get to meet his neighbors, the physician he befriends, the workers Abu Jean, in particular, who are hired to rebuild the home. Everyone tells him that this is not just his home, and people will take advantage of him. It matters not, Anthony feels a great need to be part of his heritage.

Anthony Shadid was part of the Arabic world. His job as a journalist was to observe and record the day to day life of the world in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and Syria.
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