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The Patrol: Seven Days in the Life of a…

The Patrol: Seven Days in the Life of a Canadian Soldier in Afghanistan

by Ryan Flavelle

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A fabulous read. Favelle has compressed a combat tour in Afghanistan to a one week patrol. His story covers this patrol day by day. It is intense. Favelle puts us, the readers, into that patrol. We hear what he hears. We feel the heat. We smell the same smells the troops smell. We sleep in the sand and fell the itch of the sand fleas. This is a great story of a modern day soldier in combat. ( )
  Hawken04 | Jan 15, 2014 |
An excellent snapshot of the Canadian war in Afghanistan. Told from the point of view of a soldier in a support trade, it gives an excellent picture of what it means to be at the cutting edge of the infantry's war, and therefore the heart of war. I recommend it highly. I wish the author all the best in his personal, academic and Army Reserve lives. ( )
  RobertP | Jul 13, 2012 |
While he does include some background on how and why he joined the Canadian Army, this is essentially Flavelle's description of one seven day patrol he took part in in Afghanistan. He was a Signaler responsible for communications in his platoon.
Afghanistan is an example of modern warfare- your enemy is not in uniform and is indistinguishable from the local civilians. In fact, he may be one of those civilians during the day and your enemy combatant at night.
Being a foot soldier in Afghanistan is dirty, sweaty, scary work. Every time you put your foot down you worry are you going to set off a IED or a mine. The farmers fields are surrounded by mud walls which could be hiding Taliban. Patrolling in the dark through muddy fields with 45 kilos of gear on your back is hard work and dangerous work.
While Flavelle was happy to get back home to Canada, he does not regret volunteering for a tour in Afghanistan and says only someone who has fought in war can understand it. This is one very gritty description of modern warfare. ( )
  lamour | Dec 13, 2011 |
A highly engrossing, very well-written account of modern warfare. The author is a reservist with the Canadian Forces and volunteers to serve a tour in Afghanistan as a signaller. This book recounts his experiences on a seven-day patrol partway through the tour, a patrol where he faced difficult tests and changed as a person.

As a history student, Flavelle is well equipped to write a smooth narrative and provide explanations where necessary (especially of the alphabet soup of acronyms that usually pervades army-speak). His voice is engaging, sprinkled with witty asides. Examples: on the Press to Talk switch: "the army has such clever names for things like that." On the Infantry guys ribbing him for being a nerd: they would say that "Kirk was a better captain than Picard (which he obviously was not)". The humour does taper off toward the end of the patrol, but it is hard to be amusing when one witnesses a death by improvised explosive device (IED). Flavelle is also honest about himself, reflecting on his personality and what has changed about him over the course of the tour, and taking stock of the conflicted feelings he experiences upon coming home.

I greatly enjoyed this book and learned a lot about how it feels to be a soldier on the ground, on the front lines. The only thing that kept it from being perfect for me was the occasional discussion of women in a rather objectified sense. It's one thing for a group of all male soldiers who are deprived of women to start having the usual jock talk, and keep it to themselves, but quite another to actually be catcalling and leering at the first civilian females they encounter when returning home.

All that aside, this is a very good book that deserves to be read by anyone seeking a firsthand perspective on the war in Afghanistan or the modern-day life in the Canadian Forces. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 27, 2011 |
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