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Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army [Hardcover]

Christie Blatchford
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 30 2007
Long before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.

It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.

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“Blatchford has the rare ability to make her descriptions of combat, particularly those involving loss of life and serious injury, almost embarrassing to the reader. You feel that you are eavesdropping on very private matters. Her extensive research and her own recollections as she was caught up in the thick of some of the heaviest fighting are compelling, gut-wrenching and, unfortunately, real. . . . She walked the walk. . . . Blatchford’s hundreds of hours of interviews in Canada have produced a rare, intimate look at how individual families coped with an early-morning knock on the door, and the presence of a unit officer and a padre with devastating news, or having a vehicle chase down a father out for a jog with a request that he get in and return home because ‘the Army is at your house.’. . . As someone who has been to Afghanistan visiting our troops a couple of times, I learned more about the performance of our soldiers from reading Blatchford’s book then [sic] I did from being on the ground for short stays. . . . I’ve never felt prouder of being Canadian then when I’ve had the pleasure of commanding, or, in the case of Afghanistan, observing Canadian soldiers performing their duties abroad. Fifteen Days reinforced that pride even more. Bravo Zulu, Christie Blatchford.” — Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret’d) in The Globe and Mail

Her work, at its best, tends to reflect life’s mirror. There is death in her book, of course. It’s about war, after all — our war, to those who support it, and our soldiers, even to those who don’t. Blatch [sic] gives them more than just faces, she gives them life. And, for those who died wearing Canada’s uniform, she gives them a life that no newspaper has the length and space to describe, and no television documentary can convey in an hour’s time slot.” — London Free Press

“Christie Blatchford brings to the theatre of hostilities her keen eye and curiosity. She writes superb prose that conveys the experience of the Canadians’ war in Afghanistan. She understands the soldiers and has grasped the comradeship that binds them together. She not only informs Canadians of today’s military realities, but champions values such as honour and sacrifice. She is exceptionally evocative, superbly descriptive, and develops a compelling storyline.” - Citation from the 2006 Ross Munro Media Award

“Sandstorms, killer heat, sneak suicide attacks, rotten food, bites from five-foot snakes, death of buddies, can’t tell the enemy from friends - a tough and deadly war, yet Blatchford shows how our troops soldier on with no complaints. You will be involved in conversations with the troops that could only be gathered first hand. This book will open your eyes to this brutal war and it is worthy of our brave young men and women.  It is a tough book written by a tough broad who tells it like it is. I could not put the book down.” - Don Cherry

Fifteen Days is by far the most deeply personal and startlingly honest account of Canadian soldiers since they first stepped foot in Afghanistan. Uninhibited by the official line, the troops hold nothing back, proving over and over why they are the best PR agents in the military; they also have the most to lose. By earning their confidence and respect, Christie Blatchford has delivered a candid and often painful account of their most difficult days. She is a master at capturing the truth of a moment, the humour and the heartbreak. The book is so vivid that I could feel the unbearable weight of the fallen. “ - Lisa LaFlamme, National Affairs Correspondent, CTV National News

About the Author

Christie Blatchford has been a high-profile Canadian journalist for over 25 years, with columns covering sports, lifestyle, current affairs, and crime. She started working for The Globe and Mail in 1972 while still studying at Ryerson, and has since worked for the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post. She returned to The Globe and Mail in 2002. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column writing.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not so accurate Dec 31 2007
this is a great book for canadians to read to see what we face over there but .... not all of her stories are accurate ... christie only talked to certain soldiers to write this book ... and some of her descriptions of what happened to us on certain days , are not accurate at all .... "OUTSIDE THE WIRE " is a much more in depth and more accurate book from all angles and is actually wrote by the soldiers and not by a reporter ..... it is published by random house and can be bought on here or in any book store accross the country .
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Canadian Army Nov. 5 2007
The Canadian army is very small - many organizations claim to be like a "family" but the Canadian Army is a family. In the larger world there may be 6 degrees of separation but in the Canadian Army there may be only two. So every loss is a wound for all. Every loss is indeed the death of a brother.

This remarkable book is a revelation of what it may mean to be part of a true Band of Brothers - a world where the most senior general lends a master corporal his own wedding ring so that he can ask his girl to marry him - a world where the entire platoon comes to the home of a fallen comrade and spends a week in the community celebrating his life - a world where a 40 plus year old widow enlists so that she can continue to be part of the family - a world where Colonels weep for their men.

The book also causes the reader to think more deeply about war and soldiers. It is politically correct to feel that all war and everything about it is bad. But we discover, that for all its terror and for all the losses, for a soldier war is what he lives for. It is when he also discovers whether he is any good at his life's work. We discover how good our soldiers are. Surprisingly, for we always think the less of ourselves, in Afghanistan, we are considered the heavy weights who punch well above our weight.

We discover that while war exhausts a person more than any other activity, it also makes him more alive.

We discover that PTSD is much more prevalent in peacekeeping than in the kind of situation that we find in Afghanistan. In peacekeeping the kit was awful and the impotence high - imagine simply witnessing atrocity? But in Afghanistan our soldiers can take the initiative and they are very well equipped and have rules of engagement that make sense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Stories Oct. 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Loved everything about the book as it portrays a raw and honest look at the conditions in Afghanistan and of the many Canadian soldiers who fought in this War, and the poignant stories of those who lost their lives in the process.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this is a well written inspiring book that all Canadians should read. It gave me a special insight to what our soldiers faced every day in service overseas, especially in Afghanistan. where I didn't really understand exactly what they were facing. it also gives the reader a feeling of the dedication that actually exists in our army. for one, I am proud of our soldiers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Sept. 1 2013
By B. Gray
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have a friend with 2 sons on active duty - 2 tours each in Afghaniston. This well written book gives me a sobering & frightening look into what they went through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As real as it gets. March 8 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Christie Blatchford writes this gripping story of a group of extraordinary soldiers caught up in an incredibly complex war. This isn't the linear battlefields of France or Germany, this is modern day Afghanistan and the enemy is around every mud-wall, across every wadi and in every poppy-field. You will not be able to put this book down!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must-Read" for Canadians everywhere Dec 1 2012
I had the great good fortune to be at a book launch where Warrant Officer Willie MacDonald introduced Christie Blatchford, and afterwards had the chance to talk with him at length about the book. I know, or have met, a number of other troops who served in Afghanistan. Every one had read the book; every one thought it was an excellent sample of the experiences of our troops. It is not, as one reviewer has said, as comprehensive a book as some others written about the Afghanistan conflict, but it is without a doubt a riveting account of some of the lives, and deaths, of those who we send "to the sharp end" - to do difficult and dangerous jobs on our behalf.

More to the point, this book is a long-overdue wake-up call that the historic task of our small, highly professional, highly trained armed forces is to fight wars, when necessary to kill, and sadly to die. "Peacekeeping", sometimes cited as the "traditional" task of Canadian troops, was a political smokescreen invented to whitewash stripping the armed forces of funding, equipment, and personnel. It also denies the historic role and great sacrifices of the many Canadians lost in past conflicts. "Fifteen Days" reminds us that every volunteer serving in our armed forces has signed a blank cheque saying, "Payable To The People Of Canada - One Life", and that our troops go where they are sent.

This book is not a comprehensive account of the experiences of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, but it is a book that every Canadian should read, if only to understand a small part of what is demanded of those who our politicians send off into harm's way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so harsh...given the circumstances... Jan. 14 2008
I wasn't there and won't be. The warfare that I trained for, was to be in Europe fighting the Soviets. Having experienced the camaraderie of units within the forces, I feel for the young men and women on tour in Kandahar. The book brings forward compelling descriptions of the combat, fellowship, frustration, fearlessness and professionalism of our Canadians. Christie may not have gotten to talk to every soldier over there but I'm certain that she would have wanted to if it weren't for being paralyzed in fear in the back of a LAV. Maybe it isn't what some would have said or would have wanted to be told but for the 'folks' back home it brings the war to the doorstep. I'm proud to be a Canadian, but I'm even prouder after reading about the soldiering by these brave young men and women. I highly recommend the book. I truthfully couldn't put it down until I had finished it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars MSS Sask
This book tells the story about Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. It gives you an appreciation on just how tough a job it is over there and how demanding a job it is. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2010 by MSS Sask
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sad Truth
Blatchford brings us a book that gets to the heart of what it is like to be a soldier in Afganistan. The book is blunt and honest. It will make you laugh and cry. Read more
Published on July 8 2009 by bookweasel
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite book
Although I understand that this author writes well for a Canadian newspaper, I felt that the writing in this book was a bit disjointed and actually I didn't even think it was well... Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2009 by Readalot
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifteen Days:Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life....
I purchased this book to become more knowledgeable on the war in Afghanistan; my son will soon be going there. It was an emotional read for me but I feel wiser for having read it. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2009 by Dorothy M. Cardinal
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ecstasy and the Agony......
A must read by every Canadian who has a concern and an appreciation of what our Military men and women are enduring and experiencing in a foreign land. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2009 by Arthur E. Proulx
4.0 out of 5 stars A Glowing but Solemn Tribute to the Canadian Men and Women in Modern...
I took on this book because I wanted to be better informed as to what the Canadian mission in Afghanistan is all about. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2008 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Blatchford gives readers the troops' perspectives.
Fifteen Days is not a history textbook, nor, do I expect, was it ever meant to be, as some reviewers have suggested in their criticisms of the book's accuracy. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2008 by Amy
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