Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan; Graeme Smith (Photos: Getty/CP)
"We lost the war in southern Afghanistan and it broke my heart."
That's the first line of Graeme Smith's memoir The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan, which won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for excellence in non-fiction, Canada's richest annual award for non-fiction writing.
Smith is a former foreign correspondent with The Globe and Mail who reported on the Afghanistan conflict for the paper from 2006-2009. He says he hopes the prize win will help keep Afghanistan on people's radar.
"The whole world is turning away from Afghanistan," he told the Globe. "When was the last time we saw an Afghanistan story on the front pages?"
"I come from a small town in Southern Ontario [New Hamburg] where 'you break it, you buy it' is pretty much the rule,” he said. "We should have a lingering sense of responsibility about the mess made over there."
Smith continues to work in Afghanistan as a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, which offers "non-partisan analysis and advice" to governments and intergovernmental agencies on preventing and resolving conflict. In 2009, Smith won an Emmy for his six-part multi-media series "Talking to the Taliban." He has also won three Canadian National Newspaper Awards.
Prize jurors said the book presents "a tragic mix of cultural ignorance, miscommunication, greed, brutality and naiveté that no amount of individual courage and dedication could ultimately overcome."
Smith spoke to Anna-Maria Tremonti about his memoir and his time in Afghanistan on CBC Radio's The Current. Check that interview by clicking on this link: