Fifteen Days

Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Long before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.

It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.

From the Hardcover edition.


3 August 2006

“Blackest day of my life. Four perfect men lost, seven others injured. . . . The day will be marked by acts of heroism– some witnessed, some described to me. I will have to tell the story someday, when I can do so without choking up.”

–from Ian Hope...
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“Blatchford has the rare ability to make her descriptions of combat, particularly those involving loss of life and serious injury, almost embarrassing to the reader. You feel that you are eavesdropping on very private matters. Her extensive research and her own recollections as she was caught up in the thick of some of the heaviest fighting are compelling, gut-wrenching and, unfortunately, real. . . . She walked the walk. . . . Blatchford’s hundreds of hours of interviews in Canada have produced a rare, intimate look at how individual families coped with an early-morning knock on the door, and the presence of a unit officer and a padre with devastating news, or having a vehicle chase down a father out for a jog with a request that he get in and return home because ‘the Army is at your house.’. . . As someone who has been to Afghanistan visiting our troops a couple of times, I learned more about the performance of our soldiers from reading Blatchford’s book then [sic] I did from being on the ground for short stays. . . . I’ve never felt prouder of being Canadian then when I’ve had the pleasure of commanding, or, in the case of Afghanistan, observing Canadian soldiers performing their duties abroad. Fifteen Days reinforced that pride even more. Bravo Zulu, Christie Blatchford.” — Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret’d) in The Globe and Mail

Her work, at its best, tends to reflect life’s mirror. There is death in her book, of course. It’s about war, after all — our war, to those who support it, and our soldiers, even to those who don’t. Blatch [sic] gives them more than just faces, she gives them life. And, for those who died wearing Canada’s uniform, she gives them a life that no newspaper has the length and space to describe, and no television documentary can convey in an hour’s time slot.” — London Free Press

“Christie Blatchford brings to the theatre of hostilities her keen eye and curiosity. She writes superb prose that conveys the experience of the Canadians’ war in Afghanistan. She understands the soldiers and has grasped the comradeship that binds them together. She not only informs Canadians of today’s military realities, but champions values such as honour and sacrifice. She is exceptionally evocative, superbly descriptive, and develops a compelling storyline.” - Citation from the 2006 Ross Munro Media Award

“Sandstorms, killer heat, sneak suicide attacks, rotten food, bites from five-foot snakes, death of buddies, can’t tell the enemy from friends - a tough and deadly war, yet Blatchford shows how our troops soldier on with no complaints. You will be involved in conversations with the troops that could only be gathered first hand. This book will open your eyes to this brutal war and it is worthy of our brave young men and women.  It is a tough book written by a tough broad who tells it like it is. I could not put the book down.” - Don Cherry

Fifteen Days is by far the most deeply personal and startlingly honest account of Canadian soldiers since they first stepped foot in Afghanistan. Uninhibited by the official line, the troops hold nothing back, proving over and over why they are the best PR agents in the military; they also have the most to lose. By earning their confidence and respect, Christie Blatchford has delivered a candid and often painful account of their most difficult days. She is a master at capturing the truth of a moment, the humour and the heartbreak. The book is so vivid that I could feel the unbearable weight of the fallen. “ - Lisa LaFlamme, National Affairs Correspondent, CTV National News

From the Hardcover edition.