In Fighting Words: Canada’s Best War Reporting, historian, award-winning journalist, and Fog of War author Mark Bourrie chronicles 1000 years of Canadian war journalism, starting with the Vikings and working his way to the present day. It’s a fascinating collection that adds an important voice to the national conversation surrounding Canada’s military identity. Perhaps the book’s most salient chapter, at least for today’s reader, is that surrounding Canada’s decade-long involvement in Afghanistan, which effectively ceased in 2011.
The chapter includes articles from the front lines by some of Canada’s most esteemed journalists, including Michael Petrou, Christie Blatchford, Alexander Panetta, and Kathleen Kenna. Together, these journalists provide an intricate look at daily life for Canadian soldiers and Afghani civilians under constant threat of Taliban attack. The most moving inclusion is a short article by The Calgary Herald’s Michelle Lang describing both the motley support staff at the Kandahar Airfield and the lives they left behind in Canada. The article would be Lang’s last; the day after it was published, she, along with four other Canadian soldiers, was killed by an improvised explosive device. Both Michelle Lang’s life and Mark Bourrie’s book serve as sobering reminders of the significant, sometimes ultimate, sacrifice that war correspondents make for their profession.