I’m excited to bring you this book review, because this is a really good book, its also written by a Canadian infantryman who was serving in Afghanistan. Further to that, the author comes from Saskatchewan, Canada, which is now my home province. He talks about Moose Jaw/Saskatoon and other Sasky stuff that I can kind of relate to.
But first, a weird little side bar. I like to sometimes reach out to authors on Facebook or whatever. So I went and looked for Robert Semrau, just to say ‘hi’ and that I liked his book and appreciate his service to country. So I did just that, and I was kind of excited when, some days after I found him, I sent him a friend request, and I got a message.
So this is cool right? I am on Facebook messaging back and forth with this person, and soon he’s telling me that he’s in Yemen, and in hospital after a car crash, and he needs $1200 for treatment, and the Canadian Gov’t wouldn’t help him out. So, rather than reaching for my non-existent cheque book in my non existent bank account with non-existent wads of cash, I put a few questions to him. Questions that any Sask lad could easily pull out of their arse, such as ‘what was the name of your hockey team when you were growing up’, and ‘what school did you go to, and what is the mascot?’ Well readers, very soon the person went off line. Fucking scammers. Like really? Imagine trying to make a buck out of the story of someone else who has put everything on the line?
Ok, back to the book. The story is really about how Captain Semrau was charged with a mercy killing on the battlefield. The wounded Taliban soldier was apparently full of holes and death was inevitable, and it would appear that morally, this was probably the right thing to do. I’m not judging, I’ve never been to war, never served in the military, never been shot at or seen my friends shot to bits. I won’t give the story away, but my personal thoughts are that while there should be due process, it seems slightly redundant to me that someone should be held to account to this degree (murder charge), while others are being actively praised for battlefield kills as snipers or infantry or whatever. Again, not judging, its just not my thing.
While I thought that there would be more lengthy discussion on the court case, the time waiting for a verdict, the unbearable stress of having a possible life sentence over his head (there were these things), I was glad to read that the story was much more about the experience of being in Afghanistan, as a soldier deployed to assist in training the Afghanistan national army. In fact, the book was almost all about the events leading up to that point, which made for great reading.
There are plenty of laughs along the way too, it would seem that the Captain has a good sense of humour and that really makes for an entertaining read. I picked the book up at the airport on a trip recently and I had it read pretty much by the time I had returned home. Captain Semrau, I salute you.