From May through August 2006, Canadian soldiers fought a running battle against Taliban insurgents in the Panjwayi district southwest of Kandahar, the Afghan provincial capital. In the most intense fighting the Canadian army has conducted since the Korean War, the Taliban offensive was defeated, checking their goal to break NATO’s tenuous resolve by occupying Kandahar, however briefly. Contact Charlie, by National Post reporter and army reserve officer Chris Wattie, recounts the Battle of Panjwayi, focusing on Charlie Company of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, with whom Wattie was embedded for eight weeks in early 2006. Wattie’s book is an extraordinarily intense minute-by-minute account of the major engagements from the point of view of the Canadian soldiers who fought them. We tread familiar, but nonetheless inspiring, ground reading about courage, fear, determination, frustration, sorrow, and professionalism. Although clearly a battle narrative, Contact Charlie contains little history or true reportage, and is unrepentantly biased. Add in the breathless tone, and the book is, ultimately, a tribute to those Canadians who have chosen to fight on behalf of Canada. Even a tribute, though, requires some sense of legitimacy, and Contact Charlie often strains credibility. The lack of annotation, and the apparently perfect recall of the soldiers, suggests that Wattie has amplified the tone, if not the facts, of the battle for dramatic effect. Nonetheless, the book will inform those interested about combat in Afghanistan, and about the lives and sacrifices of our soldiers. But between the lines of heroism and professionalism is an uncomfortable truth: two years later, the Taliban are attacking Kandahar, NATO resolve is still tenuous, and Canadian soldiers are still fighting and dying in Panjwayi.
“... an incredibly great book. It really does focus you on what occurred in southern Afghanistan in the summer of 2006 and it tells the story in a very personal manner. As far as I can determine, it`s all true and I think that`s the first time I`ve ever said that about a reporter who wrote anything in their entire life. It`s all true.” ?General Rick Hillier
“It is rare that a book about the Canadian military comes along that grabs your attention from the opening paragraph and holds it right to the last page. This is the case with the? best seller Contact Charlie.” ?Sergeant Kurt Grant, CD, Canadian Army Journal
“In the summer of 2006 the Taliban were poised to take back their Jerusalem, Kandahar City. They didn’t figure on 1 PPCLI. Chris Wattie’s outstanding effort lets us eavesdrop on the intense battles that saved the city, the country and NATO itself, and should make every Canadian proud of our country’s sacrifice in the name of freedom.” ?Lewis MacKenzie, Major- General (ret’d), Commanding Officer 1PPCLI, 1977?1979
“Way beyond the perceived access of embedded reporting, Contact Charlie brings the boots on the ground view in Afghanistan closer than anyone outside the Canadian Forces has ever seen it. Wattie’s account of the battle for the Panjwayi is reminiscent of war correspondence from such giants as Ross Munro, Matthew Halton or Bill Boss?as close to the sharp end as one can get.” ?Ted Barris, journalist and author
“Many journalists try to write about military life but few possess the ability, eloquence and sheer grasp of the fleshy reality of war and soldiering that Wattie has in obvious abundance. This is reporting, military history and political analysis of the first order. Splendid and memorable?a book that should carve an honoured place in Canadian literature.” ?Michael Coren, Sun Media columnist, television and radio host and best-selling author.
“Contact Charlie fills in the blanks between Canada’s military objective in Afghanistan and the dizzying transformation on the ground. It is a thorough, lucid account of how one company’s tour of duty altered so many lives. Like a magnet, Charlie Company is drawn into a fight behind every wall and Chris Wattie captures it all in meticulous detail. Each time they suit up for a ‘routine’ patrol, there is a sense of dread for what looms. Contact Charlie will survive as a testament to the soldiers who never came back and the friends who will never forget them.” ?Lisa LaFlamme, National Affairs Correspondent, CTV News
This book had me banging my head in frustration....It portrays professional soldiers with a Bofors 25 mm cannon that just jams twice right at the moment of contact... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Wayne D. Grover
OK, I found this book in a thrift shop and did my test. I start reading at a random point and if I find I'm turning pages, I buy it. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Diefenbaker the dog
I got this book for my 16th birthday and I loved it. Our soldiers efforts are often overshadowed by the American media. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2011 by L. Callahan
I recommend this book - an excellent and easy read that gives you detailed insight into the challenges of war in Afghanistan, the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers, and the comradery... Read morePublished on May 9 2010 by James White
This is a very well written book that tells it like it is and lets the reader know the enormous obstacles our soldiers face daily.Published on Feb. 15 2009 by D. MacPhail