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  • White School, Black Memories

  • Written by: CWO John G. Barnes
  • Narrated by: Frank Block
  • Length: 21 hrs and 52 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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White School, Black Memories

Written by: CWO John G. Barnes
Narrated by: Frank Block
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Publisher's Summary

AN INFANTRYMAN'S UNVARNISHED TRUTH ABOUT MODERN WARFARE

The fight for the "White School" during Operation MEDUSA in Afghanistan was the fiercest combat the Canadian Army had seen since the Korean War. Chief Warrant Officer John G. Barnes was in the thick of it as the Company Sergeant Major of Charles Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Barnes's extremely frank and highly detailed memoir is a fast-paced tale of courage, loss, and eventual redemption that feels like someone telling you their story across the kitchen table. Above all else, this book tells the unvarnished truth of the modern-day veteran experience from a senior non-commissioned officer's point of view.

©2022 John G. Barnes (P)2024 Tantor

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An exceptional Canadian listen

I have so much to say about this book, and all of it good.

I’ll give a quick summary and then jump into some additional the things that I want to highlight.

This book is an autobiographical account of the career of Chief Warrant Officer John Barnes. It starts as far back as CWO Barnes’ recruitment and basic training and gives highlights of his career up to, during, and after his tour in Afghanistan. If you have any interest in the Canadian military, the military generally, war history, or even military fiction, at all points, you will enjoy this book.

While the book is named after a landmark where a battle took place in Afghanistan, the book goes far beyond this conflict and gives the reader an intimate, honest, and at times brutal accounting of what life is like as a Canadian infantry soldier. And let me just say the accounting confirms what many in Canada may have not known or had forgotten – the Canadian combat soldier is one of the toughest, proudest, and best fighting men in the world.

I have read several of Mark Zuehlke’s excellent histories of major Canadian battles during WWII (Ortona is my favorite). In listening to each of these books, I came away floored by the courage, grit, and determination of the Canadian frontline soldier in the face of odds that would strike down in fear the average citizen of today. CWO Barnes’ career and this book is an extension/continuation of the rare men and heroes who fought for Canada in Europe 80 years ago and before.

In a country that has become so soft and poorly led, it is heartening to hear that at the core of the Canadian Armed Forces are men and leaders like CWO Barnes. And though he is now retired, I can’t help but think that because of his efforts (and men and women like him), there remains a core of soldiers with the skills, traditions, and determination that would be needed to fight Canada’s next armed conflict.

I salute CWO Barnes’ effort to share such a well-written and unvarnished history of his career. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know why Canada is a special country. It is this way because of people like CWO Barnes and the men who came before him. We owe him and them a huge debt.

A quick word about the book’s narration. It was excellent. The gentleman who did the reading was perfect and he must have been Canadian because he got all of the pronunciations correct. Five stars all around!

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very good read

Well said, John Barnes. Thank you for bringing to light the courageous actions of Canada's best.

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