Monday, January 14, 2008
Hart House Library
(7 Hart House Circle)
Hart House Library for an evening with Christie Blatchford and Kevin Patterson as they discuss Canadian accounts of war from their new books.
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.
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the Wire features nearly two dozen stories by Canadians on the front lines in Afghanistan, including the previously unpublished letters home of Captain Nichola Goddard, the first female NATO soldier killed in combat, and an introductory reflection by Roméo Dallaire.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.
Christie Blatchford has been a high-profile Canadian journalist for over 25 years, with columns covering sports, lifestyle, current affairs, and crime. She started working for The Globe and Mail in 1972 while still studying at Ryerson, and has since worked for the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post. She returned to The Globe and Mail in 2002. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column writing.
Kevin Patterson grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba, and put himself through medical school by enlisting in the Canadian Army. He began to write while stationed at Camp Shilo, outside Brandon, Manitoba, and studied creative writing at UBC. Now a specialist in internal medicine, he practices in the Arctic and Nanaimo, British Columbia. He lives on Saltspring Island.
Patterson’s first book, a memoir of a sailing journey across the Pacific entitled The Water in Between, was a Globe and Mail best book and an international bestseller. His debut short-story collection, Country of Cold, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, as well as the first City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. Consumption was his first novel.
At a time when the career path of many writers involves teaching creative writing, Kevin Patterson believes in the benefits of a different day job. Practicing medicine has nourished his writing, he told the Vancouver Sun: “Doctoring is a business where you go and listen to people tell you their stories all day long. It’s most gratifying and you get little glimpses into people’s lives that would never be revealed to anyone else. . . . It’s a completely different well than writing.”