A house does not become a home until a family moves in, eats and sleeps there, tells stories. Fights and makes up. Plants a tree. Otherwise a house is simply a building. How long, though, can a house remain a home? After the children have left? After its builder has died? When the neighbors have moved away and the country where it stands is renamed? Is it still a home when it has been abandoned during war?
All of these questions were on Anthony Shadid’s mind when, in 2006, he took a leave from covering war in the Middle East for The Washington Post, to return to Marjayoun, his family’s ancestral seat, nestled in the hills outside of Beirut. In between marriages, cresting 40, Shadid’s plan was to bring back to life the magnificent home Isber Samara, his great-grandfather, had built more than 100 years before.