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

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

Oct. 28 2008
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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army + Outside the Wire: The War in Afghanistan in the Words of Its Participants + No Lack of Courage: Operation Medusa, Afghanistan
Price For All Three: CDN$ 52.35


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Review

“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


From the Hardcover edition.

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so harsh...given the circumstances... Jan. 14 2008
Format:Hardcover
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not so accurate Dec 31 2007
Format:Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I took on this book because I wanted to be better informed as to what the Canadian mission in Afghanistan is all about. While the names of the fallen and injured in Blatchford's account are well-known to most of us - most prominently the gallantry of Captain Goddard - through news services like CTV and CBC, the stories of their singular efforts may not be. Blatchford, a seasoned and savvy journalist, decided in 2006 to break out of the typical mould of an embedded reporter who hung around base, and connect with the troops on a more compelling, personal plane. What she discovered was both fascinating and revealing. These men and women are both dedicated to and trained for the mission of rooting out the Taliban from southern Afghanistan. Facing death every moment of the day, soldiers of the Princess Pats regiment - commissioned and regular - do their job with a strong sense of respect for vicissitudes of war, the needs of the local inhabitants, and the emotional burdens of each other. This book is the full-meal deal as far as we, Canadians, are going to get without being there ourselves. War is brutal but it also has a wonderful way of bringing together people in a common cause. While Blatchford never tries to soft-soap the reasons for Canada being in this war zone, she lets it be known that Canadians need to see what an incredible difference their soldiers are making on foreign soil. All is not doom and gloom as portrayed in those too-often-repeated ramp ceremonies and military funerals back home. One might be slightly critical as to how the book was laid out in terms of the fifteen days of death, but this is not the time or the place to take issue with such a picayune matter. A great collection of heroic stories told from many different angles.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Dec 11 2007
Format:Hardcover
You won't regret diving into this book. Obviously the author had life changing experiences there and it comes through on every page. Clear also that she has a tremendous respect for our soldiers, and why the hell not. Very solid read. This was the first book I've ever read in my life that once finished, I immediately started reading again. I found it an emotional read; the book's characters visting my dreams at night. To flog the old cliché, I laughed and I cried.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read Dec 9 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the most important books of the year, if not the most important.
Blatch describes the lives of our soldiers, and their families at home, and in theater with impeccable attention to detail and often the bluntness that no Canadian will ever get from the 2 minute sound bites on the CBC.
If you truly want an understanding of this war from the ground up, and of what it means to be a Canadian soldier, pick up this phenomenal book today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!! Dec 15 2007
Format:Hardcover
Reveals the reality of the war in Afghanistan, what the troops are actually facing everyday. Finally a book about the soldiers and not the politics behind the operation in Afghanistan!! I Highly recommend this book to all, especially to soldiers deploying in the near future!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Amy
Format:Hardcover
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. Instead, Christie Blatchford gives us her perspective, and the perspectives of some of the Canadian soldiers she spent time with over the course of her three trips to Afghanistan in 2006.

The physical and psychological stress, violence, and devastation that these soldiers experienced during active combat in Afghanistan, mainly in the volatile Panjwaii district, are vividly described in Blatchford's writing. She captures combat in a very realistic, albeit, sometimes chaotic way, mimicking the chaos and catrastrophe of battle. Many of the soldiers' stories trigger outrage, pride, admiration, and sorrow. The soldiers whose stories are presented become very familiar to the reader; their personalities, strengths, and, in some cases, weaknesses, are apparent on every page of this book.

As Blatchford's title suggests, this is a book about soldiers' stories from the frontline, and on that level the book is successful. Readers will gain a better insight into many of the situations the Canadian troops are up against every time they venture out into Panjwaii and the surrounding districts in Afghanistan. [Amy MacDougall]
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Stories
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... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adele Donaldson
5.0 out of 5 stars should be required reading for all young Canadians
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... Read more
Published 13 months ago by jeanne harcourt
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
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.
Published 13 months ago by B. Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars As real as it gets.
Christie Blatchford writes this gripping story of a group of extraordinary soldiers caught up in an incredibly complex war. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Alex Petruk
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must-Read" for Canadians everywhere
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... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jim Saxman
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
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