Anne Garrels, Longtime NPR International Correspondent, Dies at 71

Garrels died in her home after a battle with lung cancer

anne garrels
Photo: Christopher Little/Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Anne Garrels, an international correspondent for NPR best known for her many reports from the front lines of world events, has died. She was 71 years old.

Garrels died in her home this week, after a battle with lung cancer. She was remembered by those at her workplace “as a passionate reporter willing to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice if the story required it” and “a warm and generous friend to many.” NPR’s Deborah Amos remembered Garrels as a woman who “was always braver than me, and I always understood that she was braver than me.”

Garrels began her journalism career at ABC news, where she stayed for a decade. During that time, she served as Moscow bureau chief and correspondent until she was expelled in 1982. From 1984 to 1985, Garrels was the Central American bureau chief, and covered the wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In 1988, she came to NPR and quickly made a name for herself with reports from the front lines of countless international moments. In a 2003 interview, though, Garrels promised she was not a “war junkie.”

“I didn’t set out to be a war correspondent,” she said. “The wars kept happening.”

Garrels reported from locations including the Soviet Union, Tiananmen Square, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1997, she won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for her coverage of the Soviet Union. Garrels was also an author, having written about her experience during wartime in Iraq, in a book called “Naked in Bagdhad.” 

According to the New York Times, Garrels offered to come out of retirement in February when the war in Ukraine began, despite being in the middle of cancer treatment.