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Is This Your First War?
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Less than a year before 9/11, Michael Petrou trekked through al Qaeda's backyard in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He was back in Central Asia within weeks of the attacks - this time as a reporter, slipping into Afghanistan as rockets and tracer bullets lit up the night sky, carrying notebooks, stolen blankets, and a satellite phone.
In the decade that followed, Petrou has repeatedly returned to the greater Middle East, where political Islam, liberalism, ethnic and religious nationalism, and Western military intervention shape and batter the lives of those who live there. In the process, Petrou has established himself as one of Canada's premier foreign correspondents.
Petrou details a world in the midst of great turmoil and tells the stories of people who have long been held down by dictatorship and extremism and who are finally beginning to shake themselves free.
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About the Author

Michael Petrou, an award-winning senior writer at Maclean's, has covered wars and conflicts across Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. He is the author of Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War, and he holds a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford. Petrou lives in Ottawa.

Reviews

Petrou's clandestine travels in Iran and his visits with that country's diverse and far-flung underground of brave democrats, intellectuals and dissidents provide an exceedingly rare insight into the workings of the Khomeinist police state... But it's Petrou's dispatches from the front lines of the "first war" of the book's title, the freedom struggle that Canadians usually call the "war in Afghanistan," that lend the book its heft. -- Ottawa Citizen One of Canadas leading foreign correspondents presents a searing medley of gritty narratives drawn from a decade of reporting across the greater Middle East... The human narratives, in their unpredictable and subjective particularity, are collectively compelling. - Oxford University Alumni magazine (UK) May 2013 "Petrou is a wonderful storyteller and the book is replete with intriguing vignettes of the multitude of people he worked with, and against." -- Literary Review of Canada ...a searing medley of gritty narratives... -- Oxford Today, Alumni magazine (UK) The book goes back to Vikings and Colonial wars, but back then there was no real reporting. By the First World War though, it's riveting stuff. There are tremendous reports from WWII by Matthew Halton, Ralph Allen, and a searing version of the Dieppe Raid by Ross Munro. You can also read the last story written by Michelle Lang before she was killed in Afghanistan. -- Peter Mansbridge, cbc.ca The book goes back to Vikings and Colonial wars, but back then there was no real reporting. By the First World War though, it's riveting stuff. There are tremendous reports from WWII by Matthew Halton, Ralph Allen, and a searing version of the Dieppe Raid by Ross Munro. You can also read the last story written by Michelle Lang before she was killed in Afghanistan. -- Peter Mansbridge -- CBC.ca, May 9, 2013

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