“In The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, Graeme Smith tells the story of Canada’s role in the ill-fated war in Afghanistan. Beyond bang-bang journalism or simple-minded patriotism, Smith takes readers on a boots-on-the-ground journey through an inhospitable landscape and an impossible military mission. It is a master class in war reportingthat will be studied by Canadian policy makers for years to come.”

Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing jury citation

“Smith . . . sojourns in the strife-torn city of Kandahar to offer gripping and disheartening testimonies to the hell of war and the resilience of foreign correspondents. . . . It’s a timely story of the perils of reporting from a region deeply inhospitable to Westerners. Kidnapping is an ever-present threat, and Smith adopts a dizzying menu of defenses after his office is raided by unknown gunmen. These obstacles make his stories about prisoner abuse, the Canadian role in the surge, and meetings with Taliban fighters all the more remarkable.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Both a riveting read and an extraordinarily tough read, because of what he sees, observes and reflects upon. . . . At first . . . I thought, ‘Oh, God, I can’t stand it, it’s too painful, too depressing.’ But I couldn’t put it down.”

Anna Porter, The Globe and Mail

“The no-holds-barred story from a leading expert on the insurgency. Smith draws on his unmatched compassion and a rare ability to cut through the noise and see the broader truths to give us a bold and candid look at the Taliban’s continued influence—and at the mistakes, catastrophes and ultimate failure of the West’s best intentions.”

The Vanguard

“As it seems unlikely that we will get a candid and transparent assessment of our performance from government sources, [Smith’s] book may be the next best thing. It should be recommended reading for future decision makers and public servants. Smith helps us learn from our role in Afghanistan while the experience is fresh.”

Stuart Hughes, bout de papier

“Veteran foreign correspondent Smith delivers an evocative, on-thespot, compassionate, and ultimately devastating report from the frontline of Canada’s confused mission in southern Afghanistan. This is a grim, maddening, and entirely compelling account of an international debacle, told with dry humour, stoic prose and a gallery of memorable, resilient characters. As Canada leaves Afghanistan, Smith analyzes our achievements there and what exactly we left behind in the dust. ‘We lost the war’, Smith laments, ‘and it broke my heart.’”

RBC Taylor Prize jury citation

“In a style marked by smoothness as well as clarity and exceptional detail, Canadian foreign correspondent Graeme Smith describes the stressful state of conditions in Afghanistan.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“A disturbing, depressing and essential book about Canada’s long, misguided Afghanistan mission, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now is the culmination of Graeme Smith’s years on the ground in that nation, largely spent reporting for The Globe and Mail. But Smith was no average correspondent, spending much of his time outside designated safe areas, and, as this introspective and piercing book makes clear, questioning both the war and his role in propagating its core narratives. It is the book the war deserves: visceral and terrifying yet ambiguous and questioning. Smith is as brave in addressing our failings as he was in reporting from the battlefields.”

BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction jury citation

“[An] intricate and sobering account of good intention gone awry.”


“When Graeme Smith travelled to the war in Afghanistan as a young and idealistic journalist in 2005, he fully believed that the international community could ‘bring the whole basket of civilization to [this country]: peace, democracy, the rule of law.’ The Dogs Are Eating Them Now is his painfully detailed, eyebrow-raising account of what he saw during his six years of reporting on that effort for The Globe and Mail: a tragic mix of cultural ignorance, miscommunication, greed, brutality and political naivete that no amount of individual courage and dedication could ultimately overcome. A graphic but determinedly even-handed memoir that does much to counter the reams of official spin this topic has endured over the years.”

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction jury citation

“One of the most honest accounts of the ravages of war. Ever.”


“Smith has written both a tragic love story, for a country that he cares for deeply, and an indictment of a mission that lacked clear goals and the tools needed to fulfill them. . . . Throughout his telling, Smith avoids finger wagging or a war-weary pox on all, and instead paints a picture of how a collision of cultures and goals led to tragedy. . . . Smith’s version is written in a way that readers will have come to expect from his journalism—honest, gripping, but without melodrama, and hugely insightful. . . . It is a brutal story, sharply told.”

Lucas Robinson, Policy Options



“For all the news and politics junkies out there, this is a must-read.”

Newstalk 1010 (Toronto)

“In-depth, investigative reporting—journalistic ‘boots on the ground’—is becoming ever more essential in a world of media controlled conflicts, where the battlefields are clouded with the fog (or, in Smith’s preferred metaphor, the sand) of war. Smith has a case and he makes it forcefully.”

Alex Good, The Hamilton Spectator

“Smith persevered in Kandahar for longer than others, and he produced vivid newspaper reporting until the end. But his book is something different and more personally revealing, and its most valuable and interesting elements are what you don’t get in those newspaper dispatches—descriptions of the difficulties of reporting, safety protocols when navigating the city, small anecdotes that illustrate the alienation between Canada and Afghanistan, and the hopelessness of efforts by the former to help the latter. . . . Smith’s book is at once honest, smart. . . . For those interested in the succession of crimes and tragedies that marked Canada’s time in charge of Kandahar, his book should be compulsory reading.”

Graeme Wood, The Globe and Mail

“An important contribution to our attempt to understand Canada’s experience in Afghanistan.”

Michael Clark, Quill & Quire

“A heartrending chronicle of [Smith’s] time accompanying Canadian soldiers into battle, as well as a romping tale of rattling around ‘outside the wire’ in Kandahar on his own and roving about on various hairraising excursions to neighbouring provinces. . . . Bracingly honest. . . . An old-fashioned ripping yarn of adventure and courage and intrigue, told with regret and self-doubt and tempered by an acute awareness of the tale’s tragedies.”

Terry Glavin, Literary Review of Canada

“A wise, enthralling, detailed, realistic account of his time in Afghanistan.”

Jeffrey Simpson, The Globe and Mail

“Graeme Smith is an admirably intrepid journalist. As a correspondent for The Globe and Mail, he spent more time in southern Afghanistan between 2005 and 2011 than any other Western reporter. The result was, without a doubt, among the best reportage on Canada’s engagement and conditions in that chaotic part of the country. . . . It is the most hard-won and heartfelt piece of journalism that exists on Canada’s longest war.”

Tod Hoffman, The Gazette

“The definitive Canadian account of the Afghan war thus far. No one emerges from it unscathed, least of all its author. . . . This is the marvel of the book: Despite its very bleak tone, and its scathing assault on Western hubris, the author’s empathy—for ordinary Afghans, and for ordinary Canadian soldiers—shines through.”

Michael Den Tandt, The Vancouver Sun

“Smith’s compelling account of his time in Afghanistan, as laid out in his excellent war memoir The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, recounts how early optimism distorted complex realities.”

Al Jazeera

“A searing, at times scathing account of Smith’s years in Afghanistan. . . . He is a brilliant, vivid writer, with a knack for summing things up in a
telling aphorism.”

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey)

“In Graeme Smith, Afghanistan has found the writer with both the eye for detail and the appropriate sense of irony to begin to do justice to the Afghanistan conflict. . . . Smith’s long-term view . . . gives him a privileged perspective on the changing dynamics of almost a decade in South-Central Asia. . . . Smith has an incredible eye for detail, important details in particular. . . . Smith’s diagnosis of the war is precise and damning.”

Douglas A. Ollivant, Foreign Policy

“An engrossing narrative. . . . Smith is a generous narrator, bringing the reader right inside his head as he tries to make sense of what he is witnessing. . . . Important for all Canadians, who all too easily forgot or ignored dispatches chronicling the latest firefight or friendly fire incident. . . . Smith . . . has contributed much to our understanding of what was happening in our name, thousands of miles away. . . . Let’s hope Canada—and other nations—take heed.”


“Knockout new book on [Afghanistan]. . . . It should be required reading for anybody who thinks that nations can be built by foreign troops on temporary assignment.”

Hugh Pope, Dining with al-Qaeda

“This is a Dispatches for a new generation. Brilliant writing, unforgettable scenes, fascinating characters, a propulsive narrative and crucial insights into what went wrong in the blundering Western intervention in Afghanistan. Written by a man who embedded himself deeply and courageously in Afghan society.”

Geoffrey York, author of The Dispossessed: Life and Death in Native Canada

“Graeme Smith eschews the ‘official version’ of the war in Afghanistan and instead shows us life on the ground for the soldiers, insurgents, politicians, warlords, and—most importantly—the civilians caught between all sides.”

Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

“Very few foreign journalists have lived and told the story of southern Afghanistan like Graeme Smith. This is reportage that is both brilliant and brave, written in the dust and danger of a country that fades from global view. From the very first line of this book, you understand how much he cares about Afghanistan, and wants all of us to do the same. Written with great authority and affection, this book confronts the noble aims and aching failures of international engagement. It offers us a searing critique and a sober assessment of the world’s ability to do good in difficult places. Graeme admits his heart was broken by a war that drew in all of us. His book may break your heart too.”

Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent

“Graeme Smith has long since demonstrated that he is one of the most resourceful and well-informed reporters covering Afghanistan. In his very well-written and entertaining new book he dissects the Western project in Afghanistan with deep reporting and analysis. It is a pleasure to read even if his conclusions are sobering.”

Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad

“Powerful. . . . His stories span the many scales of conflict, capturing everything from the official bombast of military strategists to the dust and discomforts of daily life in a war zone. His book has the emotional candour of a memoir and the geopolitical acuity of an expert policy paper.”

The Christian Science Monitor

“Smith’s book seems destined to be a standout: A compelling, selfrelevant account of a reporter coming to grips with a big story and his own feelings of shock and disappointment. . . . Smith’s tone is unflinching; a reporter who has spent considerable time and effort on the story, he has the on-the-ground facts and sees no need to lard it up with advocacy or suppositions.”

Los Angeles Times