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The Devastating Story Of War Through The Eyes Of A Child Soldier Beah Tells How, At The Age Of Twelve, He Fled Attacking Rebels And Wandered A Land Rendered Unrecognizable By Violence By Thirteen, He D Been Picked Up By The Government Army, And Became A SoldierMy New Friends Have Begun To Suspect I Haven T Told Them The Full Story Of My Life Why Did You Leave Sierra Leone Because There Is A War You Mean, You Saw People Running Around With Guns And Shooting Each Other Yes, All The Time Cool I Smile A Little You Should Tell Us About It Sometime Yes, Sometime This Is How Wars Are Fought Now By Children, Hopped Up On Drugs And Wielding AK S Children Have Become Soldiers Of Choice In The Than Fifty Conflicts Going On Worldwide, It Is Estimated That There Are Some , Child Soldiers Ishmael Beah Used To Be One Of Them What Is War Like Through The Eyes Of A Child Soldier How Does One Become A Killer How Does One Stop Child Soldiers Have Been Profiled By Journalists, And Novelists Have Struggled To Imagine Their Lives But Until Now, There Has Not Been A First Person Account From Someone Who Came Through This Hell And SurvivedIn A Long Way Gone, Beah, Now Twenty Five Years Old, Tells A Riveting Story How At The Age Of Twelve, He Fled Attacking Rebels And Wandered A Land Rendered Unrecognizable By Violence By Thirteen, He D Been Picked Up By The Government Army, And Beah, At Heart A Gentle Boy, Found That He Was Capable Of Truly Terrible Acts This Is A Rare And Mesmerizing Account, Told With Real Literary Force And Heartbreaking Honesty


10 thoughts on “A Long Way Gone. Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

  1. says:

    I m sorry, I m so very sorry for what I am about to do It seems unbelievably curmudgeonly of me to judge this book harshly given its subject matter But I can t let the deep empathy I feel for this former Sierra Leonean child soldier cloud my judgement of his memoir I give him five stars for his courage, his honesty and the remarkable work he is doing to shed light on the life of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and elsewhere to raise consciousness and motivate political action to put a stop to the brutality and corruption of the regimes that use them.But, this is about the book did the book work, did the book move me as it had the immense potential to do, did it put me into his world and let me share his trauma and pain at a visceral level making me angry, sad, guilty, moved to action And the answer to all of that is, not really.It had three major flaws really, I blame the editor 1 The lead up to Beah s kidnapping into the army lacked the kind of rich detail that made the loss of that life resonate throughout the rest of the story for a contrast, see Lawrence Hill s The Book of Negroes aka Someone Knows My Name.2 The time spent in the army the drugs, the brutality of the training , the weeks long missions in the bush, fuelled only by drugs and fear, the orgies of killing, raping and looting all that we know happens, we didn t see here Beah s time in the army was the shortest part of this book For him, emotionally and psychologically, it s completely understandable even if he wanted to unlikely he probably can t because of the drugs and trauma even remember It s a terrible thing, but this book needed him to.3 The book ended abruptly with a major piece of the story left hanging I guess I can t tell you what So often, books especially memoirs inherently have a built in problem with the end We always know the end at least in broad strokes, but you still have to take us there, and take us to a point that it makes sense to stop even though obviously, if you re writing it, the story didn t stop In this case, Beah stopped about two crucial plot points before he should have.What was most effective for me was the rehabilitation section of the story This is where Beah s detached, almost fugue like point of view seemed to work so well It s also where his memories of what he experienced were set up in stark relief to the difficulty of his recovery that contrast, and the level of detail that then emerged, made for compelling reading In fact, I m upping from 2 to 3 stars solely based on the redemption the rehabilitation segment offers the story It made up to some extent for flaws 1 and 2 Maybe the entire story should have been set during the rehabilitation period, with flash forwards and flashbacks Because of some work I am doing right now for an organization working in the field of international development and poverty reduction, I am particularly interested in how to tell these kinds of stories how do you avoid exploitation while retaining the emotional power of the story to motivate readers to empathy and action What form works What level of detail What tone and POV Dave Eggers wrote a jacket blurb as did Jon Stewart and this book shows me a little why Eggers approach, as in What Is The What at its heart, a remarkably similar journey and in Zeitoun works so well, where this one didn t It takes a deft writer to manage these literary choices it s about how the story is told as much or even than what the story is Maybe that s just me maybe I m asking a memoir to use fictional devices and story telling techniques and maybe that s just not fair Maybe that s why Eggers is the epitome for me, because he is able to tread that line perfectly imho, and brings, too, the journalist s eye to the story.What do you think Should memoirs be held to the same standards as fiction in terms of plot, pacing, tone, characterization, etc All or some of these Or is there a different set of standards that need to be applied, a different way to experience them


  2. says:

    I will never Never Complain about my childhood again.Okay, that s not true I will But when I let out a sad sigh of remorse that I didn t figure out exactly why I really wanted to be friends with that one guy in band in high school until it was way too late to do anything about it, I will at least think, At least I wasn t killing people and snorting gunpowder Like most of you reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about what was happening in Sierra Leone in the 1990s I didn t know there was anything to know For all I knew, we had fixed Africa back in 84 when the First World Lonely Hearts Club Band belted out We Are The World and made us all notice the famine in Ethiopia And anyway, that was in east Africa West Africa was supposed to be a little better organized.Shows how much I knew Turns out all hell was breaking loose After than a decade of one party rule, the Sierra Leonean military got into power and behaved pretty much the same way most African military governments did Badly.In reaction, a rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front RUF started rampaging through the country Their initial cause was to get rid of a corrupt government, but they very quickly went corrupt themselves, burning and slaughtering as they went The rebels were vicious and bloodthirsty, and one of their most common ways of recruiting was to murder men and woman en masse and bring their sons into the fold They would manipulate them with fear and drugs and hate, turning boys of ten, eleven, twelve years old into murderers.Ishmael Beah was on the other end of this His family was killed when the RUF ran over his town, along with most of his friends He and his schoolmates tried to run away, but were eventually ensnared by the army The army of Sierra Leone were hard pressed to fight the rebels, and needed recruits So they would take in boys who had been left orphaned and rootless by the war and hook them on fear and drugs and hate, turning boys of ten, eleven, twelve years old into murderers.Hmmm.This is the story of Beah s descent into horror and his successful return from it He was one of way too many child soldiers in Africa, and probably one of the very few who came through his experience not only intact, but willing to write about it I first saw him on The Daily Show, and honestly it is really tough to reconcile what you read in this book with the bright eyed, smiling young man sitting across from Jon Stewart.Thanks to Dad, for the birthday present smile


  3. says:

    I read this book in 2007 when this book was first released It was a year when local High School kids in our area were assigned to read this book Then later in the year Ishmael came to speak at our local state University to a room of than 1,000 people.It was a powerful night Ismael Beach was 26 years old when this book came out He tells his story of becoming a child soldier in Sierra Leone and of his later rehabilitation Heartbreaking horrors children in war..fighting, killing, dying.A riveting disturbing memoir.Ishmael became a spokesperson for the welfare of children caught in the brutality of war He opened the eyes for many while building his own life thriving and living in the United States Thankful for all the support he received having survived The beauty of connecting with new Goodreads members is re visiting books we have read Thank you Ike for the reminder that this was a valuable book to read.It only takes a few hours to readbut its a story one can never forget


  4. says:

    4.5 StarsTW Violence gore, rape, drug abuseThis book reminded me of Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, not because their subject matter is anything alike, but because I had the same reaction to both books Throughout the duration of the book it was very impactful and heavy, and I may have shed a tear or two, but as soon as I closed the book the weight of it just fell upon me and it made me start crying in full Wow This book is truly unlike anything I ve read before I can t even fathom the life that Ishmael has lived through, and his bravery for telling his story This book was educational, this book was heart wrenching, this book was touching, this book was amazing As far as memoirs go, this will definitely be a memorable one.


  5. says:

    Dear Ms Naomi Campbell,I have always been an ardent aficionado of your work from your heydays sashaying the YSL runaways along with Linda Evangelista to crooning in George Michael s Freedom video Your numerous sexual trysts with celebrated oligarchs and other questionable chaps were highly fascinating although not marvelous But lately, you seem to forego your sadistic tantrums and suffer from a transient global amnesia Is it due to those numerous chalky dust lines running through your nasal septum I do not know whom to believe You, Carol White or Mia Farrow Are you familiar with a certain Mr Charles Taylor, the benefactor to your gift of dirty little stones Aww My apologies if I m being a twinge to you ruptured temporal lobe Anyhow, as an admirer of your never ending legs, I enclose a pill to your deteriorated hippocampus.Let me introduce Ishmael Beah now don t you get that dirty little mind working , Beah is a regular teen, trying to make sense of his life with his stepmother, a father who appears to have lost track of Beah s life, harbors a dream of being a rapper by aping the likes of Run DMC, MC Hammer and loves playing soccer with his brother Junior.Oh I forgot to mention Beah is a child soldier recruited to battle against the rebels Dreadful isn t it Beah s story travels to a quaint village of Mattru Jong in Sierra Leone Circa 1993, Beah travels with a couple of his friends to enter a talent competition for upcoming rap artists On his return, the once picturesque Mattru Jong has been ravaged by the rebels, massacring every human soul in sight The prospect of seeing an old man resting in a armchair is pleasant, except once Beah went nearer there was not an inch of flesh untouched by bullet wounds, a little closer and the man s limbs were scattered with sprinkles of blood patterned on the wall Sierra Leone was under an ongoing dastardly active civil war A war that showed no mercy to any living being, slashing every inhaling lungs Control of Sierra Leone s diamond industry was a primary objective for the war Although endowed with abundant natural resources, Sierra Leone was ranked as the poorest country With the breakdown of all state structures, wide corridors of Sierra Leonean society were opened up to the trafficking of arms and ammunition, and an illegal trade in recreational drugs from Liberia and Guinea.Seeing his family perished Beah runs to save himself from being caught by the rebels in fear of being recruited in the camps For over a year, Beah wanders through several villages passing through dense forests walking for endless miles with hunger corroding his sanity and being alive was a burden itself Running was not a sport for Beah but a gift to remain alive A year after his deathly escapes he unfortunately gets recruited by RUF at a tender age of 13 Beah life s takes a turn making his daily chores of annihilation, toting Ak 47s and grenades appear mundane for a killing machine His diet now consists of mind numbing tablets, snorting cocaine and brown brown a mix of gun powder cocaine The early day soccer practice is replaced by guarding posts avenging every intruder Following a period of three years as a combatant Beah is lastly rescued by the UNICEF and NGOs giving his life a new lease Ishmael Beah is now a speaker at the UN against war crimes relating to child atrocities and resides in NYC.In May 2000 the situation of Sierra Leone was deteriorated to such an extent that insurgency of British Troops was ordered to evacuate foreign nationals and locals The 11 year war finally came to an end in May 2002 with President Kabbah taking the sovereignty of the nation.Even after the end of the Liberian War carnage culminating in the arrest of former President Charles Taylor, regrettably than 50% of the diamond mines are unlicensed and used for illegal smuggling of ammunitions.Therefore you comprehend Naomi, even as you mull for the authority of your dirty donation and disembark your yacht frolics whilst acquiring a 10 page lavish spread of your chastisement on the coveted W Magazine there will be festering of thousands other Ishmaels not that privileged to escape the unspeakable perils due to your lacerated amnesia.Thanking you,A keen observer eagerly waiting for your upcoming crabbiness and monotonous whoring of testimonies.


  6. says:

    A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah 2016 1394 240 9786007642412 1395 26


  7. says:

    Blood diamond Lord of war ..


  8. says:

    , , , , ,


  9. says:

    This is a very important book, though not an easy one to read Ishmael s style leaves a lot to be desired, and he is especially weak, I feel, when he tries to be philosophical But he makes up for that with the descriptions of war, to the depravity which human beings can descend to The fact that he does this with a child s candour, unemotionally, makes it even disturbing.Children can be easily moulded And cruelty comes easily to children, because they do not think of it as cruel in the adult sense These child soldiers bury men alive with the same enthusiasm and curiosity as a child pulling wings off a butterfly and watching it squirm Values such as the difference between kindness and cruelty have to be taught to children but these boy soldiers of Sierra Leone, most of whom have seen their family and friends massacred mercilessly, have been fed only drugs and hatred War is their religion, and their gods are Rambo and Shwarznegger.I salute Ishmael for the courage to come out of it At the same time, I weep for the thousands who did not.


  10. says:

    The review for this one is a toss up between one and five stars It was an amazing story of how a twelve year old boy survived the armed conflicts in Sierra Leone in the 1990s It s well written, provides vivid imagery, and evokes the horrors of war.The one star is because of the vivid imagery Let s be perfectly clear about this people die in this book Blood spatters everywhere, usually blood that should be kept inside some of the narrator s closest friends From the very first page to the very last, you are kept on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, happy one minute and torn with grief the next, until you and the narrator have both attained a kind of wariness to happiness since you know it won t last There s a constant suspense of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does it hits the ground like a ten ton hammer.This book is disturbing It s a good read, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone who has trouble sleeping this wont help at all Every once in a while my mind will flit to one of the scenes in the book, and I ll wince it s like I m having minor flashbacks of things that never happened to me The writing is just that evocative and heart wrenching.When I was done reading it and I wouldn t have picked it up at all, knowing the subject matter, if it wasn t assigned for a class I threw it aside I m going to do my best to remember only the general overarching story, and to forget the specific details of the hardship An overview, so that you don t have to read it if you don t want to Sierra Leone has been war torn since the discovery of the diamond mines in the 1960s in the 90s things really hit the fan Children as young as seven were pressed into military service, hopped up on cocaine and other various drugs, and sent out to kill This happened on both sides of the war the rebels and the formal army Civilians merely provided a target rich environment, their villages good only for forceful resupply of ammunition and food The narrator s village is attacked, and he and a couple of his friends manage to escape and wander the country, moving from village to village They can never settle down, because everyone is wary of children, worried that they may be brainwashed militants Eventually, after much hardship and losing his friends to gunfire, the narrator is trained as a soldier and sent out to fight Only through the intervention of UNICEF was he given an opportunity to be rehabilitated and managed to regain some semblance of a normal life, but there could be no hope of that lasting while he lived in Sierra Leone So he escaped to New York, where he s been or less living ever since.