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on February 12, 2009
What an amazingly well written book.

Chris Wattie did an amazing job of telling a story that every Canadian should read. He brings to life for the reader what it was like for the Canadians serving in Afghanistan during this period. Their challenges, successes, and failures.

He brings together amazing details and personal stories that read like a novel. From major plots to minor sub-stories surrounding the individuals who were there.

This book is an eye opener. It lets one see beyond the newspaper, beyond the statistics and beyond the propoganda.

A very easy read, which makes it a must read for anyone who cares about what we are doing there, and why.
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on April 1, 2009
This book is an engrossing and informative read on incidents in the Panjway district in 2006. Although definitely not authoritative, it illustrates in a manner comprehensive to the lay reader the point of view of the soldiers fighting during that period. I highly recommend it.
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on October 28, 2008
Chris Wattie presents a readable fast paced story of one tour of duty to Afghanistan by Charlie Company of the PPCLI in the spring and summer of 2006. Having read Christie Blatchford's 15 Days, I found Wattie's book as well to be from the soldier's perspective. As well, Wattie admires the skill and planning of the commanders, the bravery of the troops and the frustrations of the conflict. As the parent of a soldier who served in another rotation, I found Wattie's book descriptive of what our soldiers lives are like while deployed. The reader feels the emotions and energy of the soldiers as different missions and situations are described.
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on July 6, 2010
As a retired member of the Canadian military, my first interest in this book was to read about the experiences of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan. I was pleasantly surprised at how accurately the author conveyed the "feel" of the situation, as most journalists seem to miss that aspect of military service.

My thoughts go out to those whose sons, daughter, husbands and wives gave the ultimate sacrifice during their service their. It was difficult to read about a couple of them in particular because of my connection to their families. However, it was inspiring to read of the courage and leadership shown by our soldiers in this time of trial.

Thank you Chris Wattie for this tribute to the soldiers of 1 PPCLI and their supporting units, and for taking the time and effort to so accurately convey how they felt about their service. Far too often, those of us at home forget what our military does for us. On behalf of all those who have served, thank you!

To those of you considering this book, I highly recommend it, as both a history of a partiuclar unit's actions, and more importantly, as a look into the hearts of our amazing military men and women.
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on November 19, 2008
The book is well written and I found it an easier read than another great book, 15 Days. It is an outstanding testimony to our Armed Forces. Chris Wattie does a great job describing the mission, the equipment and the soldiers who represent Canada at war. He well represents and describes acts of bravery that cannot be understood by the bystander.

I wholeheartedly disagree with Mr. John W. Chuckman's review of this book.
Whether you like the mission or not, is not the topic here. These soldiers and their leaders are not there to implement or doctor politics but rather to do their jobs, and do their jobs they do. I wonder what his review of any First World War, Second World War and Korean War books would have been like. In each of those wars, Canada went to a foreign land to fight an enemy, that while not on Canadian soil, represented values that were not aligned with general world public opinion. Further,I'm not certain what Canadian's smoking habits have to do with this either.

Mr. Chuckman delves at length into who is the best soldiers on the ground. He makes it seem like we're (Canadian soldiers) big, bad, over equipped street bullies picking on the poor Taliban. The reference of "not very good" is used once or twice in regards to the Taliban's aiming of their AK-47 assault rifles. There are several references to their cunning, planning and execution of war. I found no disrespect for the Taliban in his writing. They (the Taliban) have the advantage of being in their element and that is more than an equalizer. Consider the Americans in Vietnam fighting an enemy that looked no different than their ally on the ground. Firepower is actually THE equalizer in Afghanistan.

These ARE stories of battles. One man fighting hand-to-hand with another is a battle. Nothing should take away from what these platoons did over there. Mr. Chuckman would be hard pressed to debate with any one of these soldiers what a battle should look like. It was they not him who had bullets after RPG's after more bullets being fired at them.

Regardless of how one looks at the book or the politics, our young men and women exhibit the highest professionalism and unbelievable bravery. From Private soldiers to the Officer's leading them, we have to be proud of the job they are doing and the role that they play.

It is touched upon several times in the book about the desire to perform re-constructive work by building schools and clinics. That the Taliban burn them down is for the world to see just how backward they are and why the average Afghan should feel frustrated.

Obviously Mr. Chuckman would prefer to see Afghanistan fall fully back into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies. Maybe he'd think twice about jumping on a train, bus or going to a crowded market here in Canada. We are in this and the terrorists will not forgive and forget that we are and were a part of it. Failure cannot be an option now. Maybe we shouldn't have gone in but we did and I'm proud that our soldiers are punching well above their weight class.
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on May 31, 2010
In my opinion, Contact Charlie is another must read book on the war in Afghanistan. I especially appreciated the way it describes what really happened in Southern Afghanistan during Fall 2005 and over the first half of 2006. I am writing essays on the conflict under way - collecting almost everything is written about it in US, Britain, Canada, Germany, France and Italy - and I always supported the view according to which it was the entry of the Canadian and British troops to Kandahar and Helmand to alter for the worst the dynamics of the war. Wattie explains brilliantly what made it possible to happen. I found precious what the book states about the role played by Mullah Dadullah in shaping the battlefield in Southern Afghanistan. You know? My be that reading Canadian authors is better than resort to American ones, when you want to get a clear view about what is going on in Afghanistan....
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on February 15, 2009
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.
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on February 1, 2011
I got this book for my 16th birthday and I loved it. Our soldiers efforts are often overshadowed by the American media. This is a vivid recount of Canadian bravery and courage in modern combat. The CBC did a two hour Remembrance Day special and some of the soldiers are profiled in this documentary. This book came alive for me.
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on May 9, 2010
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 of soldiers in war. A tribute to all the fallen of the war.
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on May 14, 2014
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...and there is no critical review or analysis of such failings?...grenades, 2/3rds of which were duds...Going into firefights without even a mortar section in support? No prearranged air or arty? Maybe there's reasons for such an apparently lackadaisical attitude towards issues that got some Canadian soldiers killed in combat, but I assume the real story is that these problems would have been of great concern and attention to the leaders in the field, just that they did not interest this author. It would have greatly behooved this author to dig farther and to have found out the real reasons the Canadians did what they did (if he described it right). If we go by his account, they were going into assaults without suitable advance recce and target observation to know enemy strength? And they didn't have arrangement for artillery support on standby? Not, apparently) working furiouisly to fix radio, 25 mm cannon, and grenade reliability issues? What kind of mission planners would set forth on a company scale assault and (evidently) have not even liaised in advance to have arty or air support arrangements in place? Not even a mortar section to go with them in support? How (seemingly) amateurish to get in a big fight and only *then* call in to find out that new ROEs prohibit arty support....? Maybe the author doesn't have that aspect of the story right. To me this book is superficial fluff...With all his supposed background to write on this topic, the author gets the term "laager" wrong (A defensive encampment encircled by armored vehicles or wagons.To camp in a defensive encirclement) calling it a "leaguer." Did Charlie company also really not even cover the battle space with a sniper squad? Were the Canadians really fighting (as portrayed repeatedly)with no mortar's, no snipers, no prearranged artillery, lack of awareness of ROE changes, bad grenades and jamming cannons? If so, then there is the real story to be analyzed. In my opinion Wattie covers the important events and fighting issues so superficially as to be blasé and frustratingly oblivious to the fighting methods and equipment issues that evidently hampered the Canadian soldiers. Soldiers were getting killed; at least they deserved the attention to analyze why the Canadians were fighting so apparently carelessly. If air or artillery might be needed, why not ALWAYS arrange that in advance!!!!?? (He portrays the commanders not doing that? Could that possibly be correct?) If the 25 mm jams repeatedly, FIGURE OUT THE issue! If grenades don't work FIND OUT WHY! If radios don't work once, OK, but if radios don't work repeatedly then ANALYZE THE ISSUE !!! This author completely fails to give any gratifying or informative discussion or analysis as to these serious equipment and tactical issues going wrong, and the apparently bad planning involved. Especially in an environment where major contacts and operations are almost elective decisions, why would there be no efforts to address these serious issues? As a result, I found this book extremely frustrating, shallow and annoying in how it just glosses over serious issues that (I think) professional military leaders would have worked hard to figure out and correct. And yet Wattie portrays them as more or less just shrugging their shoulders and paying no heed. Especially frustrating to me seemed the repeated 25 mm cannon failures and the pattern of going into contact only to later find out if artillery support can be negotiated or not. (I have read elsewhere the Bofors 25 mm is about the best in the world, so what were the Canadians doing wrong to have it jamming so often? Or what was the reason? Presumably it would be impeccably maintained so as not to jam instantly on first firing). Was the issue found and corrected? Surely since lives depend on it, the issue was addressed wasn't it? But Wattie doesn't share our need to know. And why (apparently)did the commanders not always make sure in advance what their ROEs and availability for air or arty support would be? How can anyone read this book without pulling their hair out wanting to know why or if they really did that? Did Wattie misportray that crucial aspect of mission planning? Perhaps more likely the actual commanders did work hard to address all these issues, its just that the author's interests don't delve very deeply into the real operational and equipment issues involved and this accordingly book gives those efforts no due diligence or consideration.
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