A very Australian story of heroism and healing.
In 2004 Garth Callender, a junior cavalry officer, was deployed to Iraq. He quickly found his feet leading convoys of armoured vehicles through the streets of Baghdad and into the desert beyond. But one morning his crew was targeted in a roadside bomb attack. Garth became Australia’s first serious casualty in the war.
After recovering from his injuries, Garth returned to Iraq in 2006 as second-in-command of the Australian Army’s security detachment in Baghdad. He found a city in the grip of a rising insurgency. His unit had to contend with missile attacks, suicide bombers and the death by misadventure of one of their own, Private Jake Kovco.
Determined to prevent the kinds of bomb attacks that left him scarred, Garth volunteered once more in 2009 – to lead a weapons intelligence team in Afghanistan. He was helicoptered to blast zones in the aftermath of attacks, and worked to identify the insurgent bomb-makers responsible.
Revealing, moving, funny and full of drama, Garth Callender’s story is one of a kind.
Winner, Military History Prize at the 2016 Waverley Library Awards
‘I urge you to read this important, engaging book. There are so few firsthand accounts from our frontline soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.’ —Leigh Sales
‘Garth Callender shows you what soldiers really think – and, more importantly, feel.’ —James Brown, author of Anzac’s Long Shadow
‘After the Blast takes its place among the very best.’ —The Age
‘A brilliantly told tale’ —Country Style
‘This memoir should be read by every young man or woman considering a career in the defence force. It's informative, candid and uncompromising.’ —Good Reading
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A great deal of After the Blast’s power comes from author Garth Callender’s measured, matter-of-fact tone. The Australian cavalry officer narrates his experiences leading up to a devastating bomb attack in 2004 that left him clinging to life—as well as his painful recovery and decision to continue his military career in Afghanistan. Clear-eyed and plain spoken, Callender never sugarcoats the ugliness of war or the high price of political grandstanding, but his primary objective is to give us an honest account of a soldier’s existence.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Well written, Insightful and at times quite chilling depiction of life as a deployed officer of the Australian Army in the modern war zones of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The SECDET teams established in Afghanistan to respond to IED attacks and gather information from the detonation and formulate patterns was fascinating.
Realistic, down-to-earth depiction. A stark reminder of what a Soldier's life is like. An Officer's at least.
Also reminds one of how important a soldier's support network, spouse, family, friends and community is and that those close to the men and women of the world's defence forces enlist alongside their loved one. I can imagine little that would be more stressful.
Wish more Defence Force personnel wrote of their experience in modern war zones or Peace Keeping missions. It would give us more insight into what they have to deal with on a day-by-day basis. Also really underlines why it's so difficult for soldiers moving back home after spending time in such adrenaline charged conditions.
Kudos too to Defence for allowing the occasional piece of constructive criticism that Major Callender imparts to stand unredacted.