Contact Charlie: The Canadian Army, The Taliban and the Battle that Saved Afghanistan Hardcover – Oct 10 2008
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Quill & Quire
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 on May 14 2014 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 on Sept. 11 2013 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