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Biography & Autobiography General


The Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard

by (author) Valerie Fortney

McArthur & Company
Initial publish date
Oct 2012
General, Military
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2012
    List Price

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Twenty-six-year-old Captain Nichola Goddard was the sixteen Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan and earned herself a spot in the history books as the first female Canadian soldier to die in combat.Goddard, says her friends and family, would have hated being singled out for her gender: she was as strong, as capable and as brave as any male in uniform. She was not just a soldier on equal footing with her fellow troops; she was a leader, a "sunray", in military parlance, in one of the most dangerous positions in the armed forces, a Forward Observation Officer with the artillery unit.In SUNRAY: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CAPTAIN NICHOLA GODDARD, award-winning journalist Valerie Fortney examines how a woman raised by self-described "left-wing hippies" came to find herself fighting and dying in Afghanistan. Based on in-depth interviews with Goddard's family, friends, and colleagues, as well as exclusive access to never-before-seen letters, SUNRAY tells the story of a remarkable 21-st century soldier. It is an intriguing, heartbreaking, and ultimately inspiring look at the decision to serve, and at what cost.

About the author

Valerie Fortney is a veteran Canadian journalist with a successful career in broadcasting, magazines and newspapers. She was a regular contributor in the 1990s to the popular radio show Basic Black, and served as a frequent contributor for CBC Newsworld. Valerie’s feature writing has appeared across North America and around the world, in publications such as Chatalaine, The Los Angeles Times and Reader’s Digest International. In the 1990s, she was the founding editor of Avenue magazine, a Calgary magazine named Best New Magazine at the 1997 National Magazine Awards. The magazine won several other regional and national awards during her tenure. She has worked at the Calgary Herald since 1998. Valerie lives in Calgary, Alberta

Valerie Fortney's profile page


  • Long-listed, British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Sunray is a poignant and inspiring portrait of one woman’s life and the profound choices that set her apart.”

CTV News, Lisa LaFlamme

“Captain Nichola Goddard’s story is written with such extraordinary detail you can feel Kandahar’s powdery dustand see the tracer fire from Taliban insurgents.”

National Post

“This important biography introduces the remarkable young woman who was a devoted soldier, wife, daughter andfriend.... Perhaps even more important, it is a fitting tribute to not only Goddard but also to Trooper Karine Blais, the secondfemale Canadian soldier to die, and to the 150 Canadian men lost to the Afghan War as well.”

Winnepeg Free Press

Other titles by Valerie Fortney