Outside the Wire

The War in Afghanistan in the Words of Its Participants

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A remarkable collection of first-hand accounts written by soldiers, doctors and aid workers on the front lines of Canada’s war in Afghanistan.

Visceral, intimate and captivating in ways no other telling could be, Outside the Wire features nearly two dozen stories by Canadians on the front lines in Afghanistan, including the previously unpublished letters home of Captain Nichola Goddard, the first female NATO soldier killed in combat, and an introductory reflection by Roméo Dallaire.

Collected here are stories of battle and the more subtle engagements of this little-understood war: the tearful farewells; the shock of immersion into a culture that has been at war for thirty years; looking a suicide bomber in the eye the moment before he strikes; grappling with mortality in the Kandahar Field Hospital; and the unexpected humour that leavens life in a warzone. Throughout each piece the passion of those engaged in rebuilding this shattered country shines through, a glimmer of optimism and determination so rare in multinational military actions–and so particularly Canadian.

In Outside the Wire, award-winning author Kevin Patterson and co-editor Jane Warren have rediscovered the valour and horror of sacrifice in this, the definitive account of the modern Canadian experience of war.

From the Hardcover edition.


Corporal Gordon ­Whitton

Gordon Whitton was born on July 18, 1974. He joined the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders in Cornwall, Ontario, in 1994, and transferred to the regular force in September 1996. He served in the Persian Gulf in 2003 during Operation Apollo. Upon...
Read More


"In these accounts, we hear crying children saying good-bye to parents; we witness the horrific deaths of Canadian heroes and we are shown the difficulty soldiers have trying to reintegrate back at home. Some of these accounts are moving and heartbreaking. Others are painfully raw. All are memorable and, in most cases, quintessentially Canadian, being a mixture of fearlessness and civility. Outside the Wire tells us more about the lives and deaths of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan than will ever be conveyed in news reports or military briefings. It's a book to make you cry and to make you feel proud, not just of the soldiers serving there but of all the soldiers who have worn the Canadian uniform for the past century."
The Ottawa Citizen

"We hear a lot [about the war], but relatively little from the ones most directly affected, such as rank-and-file soldiers, aid workers, or even Afghan citizens. That’s where this excellent new book comes in. It’s written from the perspective of people who have been there. They’ve lived, fought, died, aided the needy, and invariably been changed by their experiences in that country. …None of the chapters are throw-aways; they’re all engrossing. It’s not an easy book to read, but it is an astonishing one."
The Winnipeg Free Press

"[I]n this startling new book... the voices of battle denote the ecstasy of survival, the thrill of engagement, and the crippling loss that accompanies the death of friends and compatriots. At times haunting and desperate and at other times playful, even lyrical, these unmediated dispatches are flesh and bone, mind and matter, and, above all, soulful to the last. For observers of Canada’s national drama on the killing fields of Kandahar province, Outside the Wire is a must-read. It ensures that our soldiers are heard — that they do not go missing in action."
The Walrus

From the Hardcover edition.