"Nothing can prepare a person for the reality of bloody, concussive warfare. . . . Those who like war are aptly named warriors. Some, like me, are fated never to be warriors, as we are more afraid of war than fascinated by it. But I have the consolation that I have walked with warriors and know what kind of men and women they are. I will never be a warrior, but I have known war.” (The Patrol)
In 2008, Ryan Flavelle, a reservist in the Canadian Army and a student at the University of Calgary, volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. For seven months, twenty-four-year-old Flavelle, a signaller attached to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, endured the extreme heat, the long hours and the occasional absurdity of life as a Canadian soldier in this new war so far from home. Flavelle spent much of his time at a Canadian Forward Operating Base (FOB), living among his fellow soldiers and occasionally going outside the wire. For one seven-day period, Flavelle went into Taliban country, always walking in the footsteps of the man ahead of him, meeting Afghans and watching behind every mud wall for a sign of an enemy combatant.
The Patrol is a gritty, boots-on-the-ground memoir of a soldier’s experience in the Canadian Forces in the twenty-first century. In the tradition of Farley Mowat’s The Regiment and James Jones’ The Thin Red Line, this book isn’t merely about the guns and the glory—it is about why we fight, why men and women choose such a dangerous and demanding job and what their lives are like when they find themselves back in our ordinary world.
“This is an intelligent, fiercely perceptive, funny and wise book, written by a young Canadian soldier who is all that himself . . . it’s a great read that honours both the profession of arms and the craft of writing.”
“Frank and thoughtful.”
“Read this book! Politicians and generals may talk and write about war, but if you are at all interested in what soldiers and those who support them do, read this book.”
“As good a look at the swirl of memory and emotions in a soldier’s head as any I know.”
“The Patrol is exceptional. . . . Deeply personal, vulnerable, and refreshingly candid. It is highly recommended to anyone interested in Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan, or those that ponder the nature and traditions of soldiering.”
“If this is the most illuminating book yet written on the fight in Afghanistan--and I think that it is--its virtue stems from its absorbing point of view . . . The Patrol is simply the story of a young man ordered to do an impossible job.”