New Book on Afghanistan Already Making Waves

October 3, 2011 by Adam Day

A new book just being released this month — The Savage War by Canadian Press Defence correspondent Murray Brewster is already making waves for its revelations about how the war was conducted on the home front.

The book, which is a history of Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar, made news earlier this week in a Canadian Press report:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office was so seized with controlling public opinion of Canada’s shooting war in southern Afghanistan that even Defence Minister Peter MacKay wasn’t always in the loop, a new book about the conflict says.

The Savage War, by Canadian Press defence writer and Afghanistan correspondent Murray Brewster, paints a portrait of a PMO keen to preserve its tenuous grip on minority power and desperate to control the message amid dwindling public support for the war.

If you’re interested in Afghanistan, this should be a must-read. Look for the book to begin arriving in stores shortly.

Some background — According to the publisher’s press release, Brewster’s book can be summed up as follows: “Many have asked: What happened in Afghanistan? What went wrong? Brewster’s book, The Savage War, tackles those questions head on. Having spent the better part of five years covering the war, including 15 months on the ground in Afghanistan, Brewster offers a candid behind-the-scenes take on the conflict, which at times consumed the nation.”

Also, an excerpt:

 The Savage War

From Chapter 8:

By late August 2006, the headlines had started to scream at you. What

seemed like a never-ending series of increasingly brutal firefights and

bombings spilled across front pages and on to television screens—a

cascade of violence so intense, so unexpected that it stilled much of the

usual political burble. History uninterrupted, unvarnished, the kind you

can’t turn off or away from, intruded into those hazy, late summer days

with the sharpness of a branding iron.

Among those who followed the mission, there was a debate on when

exactly the country realized it was at war. Some argued for the very first

firefi ght in Sangin, the one that killed Private Robert Costall. Skeptics

scoffed, saying it was later, around the time of Captain Nichola Goddard’s

death. Measuring the pulse of a sleeping nation is never precise. Some

academics and politicos insisted the acknowledgement in the public’s

heart, if not its mind, went all the way back to cabinet’s approval of the

Kandahar mission. But this was not the kind of war you could put a time

stamp on. There was no start clock, mostly because everyone wanted it

to be something other than what it was. By late summer that year, there

was no debating or hiding from the realization that Kandahar had turned into

a bloody morass. Yet, in the politically correct world of Ottawa, politicians

and mandarins refused to use the word “war.” Afghanistan was a “mission,”

an “operation,” an “exercise,” an “intervention.” The last one used to crack

me up; it made it sound as though we were packing the Afghans off to rehab,

even if it was Ottawa that was lodged in deep, intractable denial




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