I’ve been accused of jealousy. Some folk out there seem to think that my criticisms of some Canadian books about the war in Afghanistan have been motivated by jealousy. I simply pointed out that in my experience not all Canadian Forces personnel were paragons of courage, loyalty and honesty. And yet reading some of the Canadian books, a reader would think they were; without a single exception. The word for this sort of reporter/writer used to be “troopie-groupie”. I want to make it clear that the vast vast majority of Canadian soldiers were indeed good people and I had no qualms about putting my life and physical well-being in their hands. But there were a couple I would steer clear of; and so would most of the soldiers if they could. All I was suggesting was that the books could have painted a little more of an accurate picture of what was happening in Afghanistan.
One book that I did give an excellent review to was “Friendly Fire” by Michael Friscolanti, about the deaths of four Canadian soldiers at the hands of an American fighter/bomber patrol in 2002 during a live-fire exercise in Afghanistan. Now, if any book should have excited my jealousy it was that one. It was suggested shortly after the incident I should write a book about it. The soldiers were from Edmonton and I’d interviewed one of them before he went out to Afghanistan. The bomb hit the ground almost exactly where I’d been standing a week before and where I would probably have been standing again if I’d gone out to watch the night-time live-fire exercise. But my real job as a newspaper reporter meant I couldn’t take on the book. As it turns out I probably had a lucky escape from a waste of time. Friscolanti was a reporter on big newspaper in Canada and one of the truths of book publishing is that it’s often not what’s written but who writes it. So, if there was ever a book that could be expected to arouse some jealousy in me, it would have been Friendly Fire. But I gave it an excellent review. So, there.