The Savage War: The Untold Battles of Afghanistan Hardcover – Jan 25 2011
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From the Inside Flap
Canadian combat troops have returned from Afghan-istan. Ten years, 157 dead, many more seriously wounded. Canadians are asking if the sacrifice was worth it. What did our efforts actually accomplish? Is the future of the Afghan people any more secure or hopeful? For most, the war in Afghanistan remains one of the most remote, misunderstood and mysterious events of their lifetime.
Murray Brewster, award-winning veteran defense correspondent for The Canadian Press, has covered the war in Afghanistan from Kandahar and forward-operating bases, the corridors of power in Ottawa and Washington, and NATO headquarters. He is courageous and tenacious, a journalist whose hard work resulted in interviews with Canadian troops, officials and warlords alike. He broke the story of Ottawa's attempts to silence whistle-blower Richard Colvin's story of tortured Afghan prisoners.
The narrative in The Savage War tackles the latter five years of the conflict. Brewster elicited first-hand commentary from the troops and senior members of the forces. Mandarins in Ottawa also gave Brewster face time, and he rigorously followed debate and parliamentary inquiries as the war ground on.
At the heart of the book are the Afghan people, whose land is a war zone. They are the human face of this conflict, and Brewster travelled to their villages and won their confidence to get their stories.
A superb story-teller, Brewster adds a dimension to the book: his own insights and hard-hitting criticism. His eyes and ears are those of every Canadian who has a desire to better understand a war half a world away that at times divided the nation, galvanized government controversy, cost hundreds of millions of dollars to wage, and cost lives.
From the Back Cover
The Savage War: The Untold Battles of Afghanistan is a detailed, inside account of the conflict that has shackled nations. It is an unflinching, unvarnished analysis of Canada's role in the war, told in the first-person by someone—award-winning defence correspondent Murray Brewster— who not only sat in the trenches with soldiers, but also in the living room of 24 Sussex Drive with the prime minister. It is the first comprehensive account of the five most significant years of the war and the key moments which shaped history.
As the country prepares to take on a new mission in Afghanistan, many Canadians are asking themselves what happened and what went wrong in Kandahar. The Savage War tackles those questions head on, taking the reader beyond the political spin and past the talking heads. The war's principal figures are captured in dozens of candid, off-camera moments. Stories of ordinary soldiers, the grit they exhibited, the sweat and blood they sacrificed, are told alongside the stories of Afghans,whose lives were torn asunder.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Brewster's multiple trips to Afghanistan as an embedded and unembedded reporter combine with his significant experience in the Canadian capital to produce an in-depth look at the strategic impetus behind the mission. The Savage War has a unique roller-coaster feel to it as Mr. Brewster will on one page be discussing the highest-level cabinet discussions and then be detailing his own absurd adventures in Kanadhar City as he looks to see if the rationale matches the reality. To be certain, there are moments where Mr. Brewster's opinions are on display, but he never suggests that they are anything but opinions and -more importantly- they are informed opinions.
It is far too early for a definitive account of the miliary mission at the operational level to be written as there is still too much emotion invested in the experience. The few books that have so far tried to describe the larger mission (with the exception of Christie Blatchford's work which focuses on individuals and Mark Gasparotto's book which is devoid of sophistry) are wishful tribute pieces at best. Mr. Brewster's book is probably the first one to attempt to cross the threshold into the sort of dispassionate analysis required to truly understand the past and as such it is, and will likely remain, an important book on the Canadian mission to Afghanintan.Read more ›
In The Savage War, Brewster doesn't just emulate Dispatches, he paraphrases entire passages from it and freely borrows Herr's images--such as describing a group of exhausted troops after action looking like "stroke victims." I don't know if such borrowing can be called plagiarism, but it must be at least very close to it. Whatever it is in legal terms, it put me off from the start. Writing in the second person requires skill and sensibility that Brewster seems to lack: in one of many examples, "As you went into April" sounds strange and inappropriate.
Technically, the book is very poorly written and cries out for a capable editor. We learn that Brewster "poured over a set of documents." A number of sentences are simply missing words and are therefore incomplete. His imagery and metaphors are quirky to say the least (he heard "a muffle of explosions" and looked out over the "eviscerated" Arghandab River). Both he and everyone else he mentions was "stopped in his tracks" numerous times--as if a dramatic phrase would somehow keep its power through endless repetition.
Brewster's personal impressions of Afghanistan are informative and interesting, to a point; however, they convey little more than every other account I have read, and usually a great deal less.Read more ›
Murrays excellact journalism, how he caputers the real moments are fellow troops go through each patrol. Awesome look into the afghan war.
As a journalist, he treads a line in the grey area between official pronouncements about the mission, and what he sees and hears during his travels. Certainly, the life of such a journalist is not a comfortable one: combat troops sometimes segregated themselves from journalists and resented their presence on dangerous missions; some army public affairs officers attempted to dictate what stories should be reported on particular days; insurgents saw them a targets as they travelled about independently in search of stories; and they even became targets for government officials who felt threatened by possible revelations of corruption.
While in Afghanistan, Brewster relied greatly on teaming up with a good "fixer," that is an Afghan who could translate, chauffeur his car, and arrange meetings with local politicians and even Taliban sources. It is therefore not surprising that Brewster felt a bond with some of his trusted fixers.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book is fantastic. Beautifully written with vidid descriptions that transport you to Afghanistan. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2012 by Leeze
Brewster goes far beyond "Look at me, I covered a war!" books written by Canadian journalists and gives an intelligent analysis of how Canadians ended up in a mess like Kandahar... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2012 by Mark Bourrie
This is an important and well researched book. I was able to get a sense of what was going on in Ottawa during key points of the war, got an inside look at what soldiers and... Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2012 by oor
I just had a read through this mess, and I am very disappointed. I served in Afghanistan in 2006, and many details in this book are incorrect. Read morePublished on Dec 22 2011 by Leo
Much more than a partially obstructed view of Canada's role in Afghanistan, Brewster provides first hand accounts of travel outside the walls of Khandahar Airfield as more than an... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2011 by C. Csetri
A superbly written account of the Canadian-Afghan experience. Anyone looking for just soldier stories should maybe look someplace else, but if you want to why things didn't go as... Read morePublished on Dec 11 2011 by Daniel