Is This Your First War?Transatlantic Agency congratulates Michael Petrou whose book Is This Your First War? Travels Through the Post – 9/11 Islamic World (Dundurn Press), recipient of the Ottawa Book Award for  non-fiction.

Less than a year before 9/11, Michael Petrou trekked through the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He was back in Central Asia within weeks of the attacks – this time as a reporter, slipping into Afghanistan as rockets and tracer bullets lit up the night sky, carrying notebooks, stolen blankets, and a satellite phone. In the decade that followed, Petrou has returned repeatedly to the greater Middle East, where political Islam, liberalism, ethnic and religious nationalism, and Western military intervention shape and batter the lives of those who live there.

The jury citation:
Is This Your First War? is a harrowing journey into the heart of darkness of post-9/11 Afghanistan. In this journalistic coming-of-age story, Ottawa writer Michael Petrou has risen magnificently to the occasion. Head, heart and spirit blend powerfully in a chronicle of a stranger in an alien land seething with ancient and modern loyalties and hatreds. Petrou’s prose shimmers with small, telling moments lined with significance.”

Michael Petrou, a foreign correspondent at Maclean’s Magazine, has worked for the CBC, the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, and BBC World Service in London. He has reported from across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia. He is also the author of Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War. Michael Petrou has a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford.

The Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du livre d’Ottawa recognize the top English and French books published in the previous year. Both awards have separate categories for fiction and non-fiction. All shortlisted finalists receive $1,000 and each winner receives a prize of $7,500. The non-fiction category is awarded for outstanding published works of non-fiction including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays.

More information about The Ottawa Book Awards can be found at: