If you intend to read just one newspaper piece about Iraq this year, it’s here. Eloquent, knowledgeable, intelligent and witty, Anthony Shadid is a brilliant correspondent and without equal as a writer. Unlike many of his award-winning colleagues, who excel in reporting but bury it in bland prose, Shadid has a keen eye for visual detail and a playwright’s ear for dialogue. In his stories, people actually carry out conversations that sound authentic. There are no contrived narrative structures, no pat endings, no fake emotions designed to boost the drama. Like I said — check it out.