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The Savage War: The Untold Battles of Afghanistan [Hardcover]

Murray Brewster
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

October 24, 2011 1118115937 978-1118115930 1
On the tenth anniversary of Canada's involvement, a leading journalist offers a fascinating assessment of Canada's past and present role in the Afghan war

Of the 33,000 troops under NATO command in Afghanistan in October 2006, 12,000 were Americans and 2,500 were Canadians. Deployed to southern Afghanistan, the Canadian forces were charged with ending the violent insurgency in Kandahar Province. The Savage War offers a compelling look at how the war has been conducted by Canada and its allies on the ground and at the highest echelons. With unprecedented access to classified documents and the exceptional storytelling skills that have made him an award-winning reporter, Murray Brewster offers a powerful new perspective on the war.

Told in the first person by a journalist who's spent more time in the trenches than any of his peers, The Savage War provides a candid look at the war's principal figures captured in off-camera moments and the daily, gritty reality of ordinary soldiers and Afghans. And as Canada prepares to take on a new mission in Afghanistan, this is the first comprehensive account of the five most significant years of the war and the key moments in it that shaped history.

  • Murray Brewster provides tough-minded analysis and a critique of bureaucracy as well as revelations about corruption—sure to incite commentary and stir controversy
  • Includes eyewitness accounts, exclusive interviews, and access to classified documents
  • An unflinching, unvarnished analysis of Canada's role in the war, told in first-person by a journalist who has sat in trenches with soldiers, and also in the living room of 24 Sussex Drive with the prime minister

Taking readers beyond punditry and political spin, The Savage War is the first comprehensive account of the key moments in the Afghan war that have shaped history. Many have asked what went wrong. The Savage War tackles this question head on.

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118115937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118115930
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,057,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Reporter's View: The Unwinnable War November 16, 2011
The World War of 1939-1945 has been called "The Good War" and the Korean War has been called "The Forgotten War;" the Canadian mission to southern Afghanistan, if one interprets the writing of Murray Brewster correctly, could be called "The Unwinnable War." Murray Brewster spent many months there between 2006 and 2011 as a Canadian Press journalist, immersing himself in the Canadian theatre of operations as well as covering higher level political developments about Afghanistan in Ottawa and in other NATO countries. He divides his writing into 25 chapters which move chronologically through that period, the narrative being almost a series of essays from a very personal point of view about key events that he lived through.

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.
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