For today’s cover poll we have chosen 4 books that deal with the topic of Canada’s presence in Afghanistan. Dundurn publishes a wide range of military history books, and you can find out more about them on our website. Read the descriptions for these four below. But first, pick your favourite cover!
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Is This Your First War? (by Michael Petrou)
Less than a year before 9/11, Michael Petrou trekked through al Qaeda’s backyard in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He was back in Central Asia within weeks of the attacks — this time as a reporter, slipping into Afghanistan as rockets and tracer bullets lit up the night sky, carrying notebooks, stolen blankets, and a satellite phone.
In the decade that followed, Petrou has returned repeatedly to the greater Middle East, where political Islam, liberalism, ethnic and religious nationalism, and Western military intervention shape and batter the lives of those who live there. In the process, Petrou has established himself as one of Canada’s premier foreign correspondents.
Petrou details a world in the midst of great turmoil and tells the stories of people who have long been held down by dictatorship and extremism and who are finally beginning to shake themselves free.
First Soldiers Down (by Ron Corbett; Foreword by Pat Stogran) On April 18, 2002, Alpha Company, Third Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was on a training exercise at Tarnak Farms, a former Taliban artillery range in southern Afghanistan. The exercise had been underway for nearly seven hours when two American fighter pilots flew overhead. One, Major Harry Schmidt, saw the artillery fire below, and thinking he was under attack, dropped a laser-guided bomb. Four Canadian soldiers died that night, the first Canadian combat fatalities since the Korean War. For many in Canada the tragedy signalled the true beginning of Canada’s lengthy combat mission in Afghanistan.
First Soldiers Down recounts what happened that evening through archival material and the recollections of troops. It also tells the personal stories of the fallen Sergeant Marc Lger, Corporal Ainsworth Dyer, Private Richard Green, and Private Nathan Smith as well as what happened to the loved ones of each of the four in the decade since the incident.
Fortune Favours the Brave (by Romeo Dallaire; Edited by Bernd Horn) Many Canadians see the role their country’s military plays in Afghanistan as an anomaly. However, this assumption is far from the truth. As U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has commented, “Canadians are fierce fighters.” Fortune Favours the Brave certainly proves this point in a collection of essays that showcases the fighting spirit and courage of Canada’s military. Daring actions featured in the book include the intrepid assault on the Fortress of Louisbourg and the cat-and-mouse struggle between Canadian partisans and Rogers’s Rangers in the Seven Years’ War in the 1750s; the seesaw battle for the Niagara frontier in the War of 1812; an innovative trench raid in the First World War; the valiant parachute assault to penetrate the Third Reich in the Second World War; the infamous battle at Kap’yong in the Korean War; covert submarine operations during the Cold War; the Medak Pocket clash in Croatia in the early 1990s; and Operation Medusa in Afghanistan.
No Easy Task (by Bernd Horn and Emily Spencer) Afghanistan has long been considered the graveyard of empires. Throughout their history, Afghans have endured the ravages of foreign invaders, from marauding hordes and imperial armies to global superpowers, while demonstrating a fierce independence and strong resistance to outside occupiers. Those who have ventured into Afghanistan with notions of controlling its people have soon discovered that fighting in that rugged, hostile land is no easy task. Afghans have proven to be tenacious and unrelenting foes.
No Easy Task examines this legacy of conflict, particularly from a Canadian perspective. What emerges is the difficulty faced by foreign forces attempting to impose their will over Afghans who, for their part, have consistently adapted tactics and strategies to stymie and defeat those they perceive as invaders and interlopers. It is within this complexity and challenge that the difficult counter-insurgency must be fought.