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Aleppo

I first mentioned Jon Lee Anderson last February in a blog about Anthony Shadid, the New York Times reporter who died on his way out of Syria. Both were war reporters. Jon Lee Anderson is now in Aleppo reporting for The New Yorker and, though experienced, I hope he finds his way out of that chaotic, dangerous war zone soon. That said, I’m looking forward to his next dispatch, an apt word to use for a war reporter’s articles. Under siege, protected as much as possible by flak jackets and the soldiers they are traveling with, they find a safe house from which to send their stories to waiting editors via satellite. These stories are not usually written in a quiet study or even a newsroom; they are composed in the field in what is left of human habitation. A far cry from the still sedate 1930’s when wealthy travelers visited a peaceful Aleppo and opened their neatly printed tourist guides issued by “Northern Syria and the Municipality of Aleppo, the “ancient and populous capital of Northern Syria.” Two of these guides are currently on view at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, quaint collectibles saved by tobacco heiress, Doris Duke. Duke was enamored of the Islamic world which she visited in 1935 on a honeymoon with her first husband. When she returned, she built a Shangri La in Hawaii with artifacts from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Syria. A conservationist and a philanthropist, I am sure she would have been horrified to learn about the destruction of Aleppo, its antiquities and inhabitants. The desecration of human history in museums and archives is a byproduct of these terrible wars.  Read More 
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