Christie Blatchford, is a Canadian journalist who has spent a lot of time nosing about Afghanistan in the company of Canadian warriors. After hours in the heat and dust with the sweaty and cursing soldiers who call themselves the PPCLI (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry), Christie wrote a book called Fifteen Days.

“Big Deal”, you may think; well, it is a big deal.

It’s been a long time, decades in fact, since Canadians have been involved in what are called offensive military operations … that’s the hunting down and killing or capturing of bad guy by the way. An entire generation, or two, of Canadians have no idea what it’s like to send men to war and have some return in caskets. An entire generation, or two, of Canadians have grown up thinking that only Americans go to war, and that Canadians by and large aren’t a warrior people. An entire generation, or two, of Canadians can’t comprehend Canadians hunting down and killing enemies.

Christie Blatchford sets the record straight in what can best be described as a blunt, in your face, description of Canadians at War in Afghanistan. And, she’s done it only as a woman could. Let me explain.

Were a man to write the story, he would be sure to lay out in geographic and technical terms a global view of the stratagems involved. Then, he’d describe, once again in geographical and technical terms, the battles, peppered with firsthand accounts in what we call “anecdotal” tales. It’s the way military history is written … it’s the way most writers do it … it’s the rule.

Christie doesn’t do that … she just lays out what she’s been told … often with spotty technical detail, often with crude or hardly comprehendible geographic detail, but with exquisite human substance. She tells it like she heard it … she tells it like they’ve told it to her … and she does it without deleting the “fucks” or tears or ugliness. What you end up with is an accurate, yet sometimes schizophrenic account of what our people have gone through and accomplished.

Christie’s book sets out what soldiers are like … and what it’s like to love soldiers.

Warriors aren’t pretty, they aren’t boy scouts … in fact, they are more like rig-pigs with a brutal job to do and supported by a cast of often nervous handwringing loved ones. Christie delivers a wonderfully unfiltered version of 15 days in the Afghan heat with some of the toughest Canucks walking the earth.

Fifteen Days will become a key contribution to Canadian history. It will become a key work in revealing to Canadians how extraordinary … yet ordinary … our warriors are. It will become a key work in revealing how un-heroic … yet heroic, military families are.

As a supporter of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan I’ve got to get my shot in, so here it is.

I dare anyone to read Fifteen Days, then stand before Canadian warriors who have been there, or stand before their families, and tell them that Canada is wrong-headed in its involvement with Afghanistan … tell them that their services would best be served on the Golan, or in Cypress, or garrisoned here at home. I dare you.

Fifteen Days, by Christie Blatchford, read it.

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