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Must-Read Pick 2007: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

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A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah chronicles his transformation from child to child soldier and the wrenching process of returning to society in
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.

 

Ishmael Beah
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
2007
Sarah Crichton Books


New York City, 1998

My high school 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.”
“Did you witness some of the fighting?”
“Everyone in the country did.”
“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.”

   Ishmael Beah was twelve years old when war invaded and abruptly ended his childhood in Sierra Leone. For four years he was swept into the atrocities of battle between rebel forces and the military, eventually being drafted into Sierra Leone’s army. At sixteen he was removed from the conflict by UNICEF and began the painful process of recovery. He has since gone on to become a college graduate, prominent speaker, and brilliant author. His narrative, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, is a heartbreaking and uplifting, harsh and tender, and moreover important account of the human soul and the effects of war.

In his book, Beah tells of his life before, during, and after the brutality as he lived it then: as a boy; as a drug-addicted soldier; as an angry young man trying to cope; and finally as man full of regained humanity. His language is simple and his manner straightforward. Through his plain honesty he provides a window into the life around him and within him: the jarring conditions of war; the tender soul of a child as it is stunned and distorted into one capable of killing; the process of returning to society, which he describes as an even more difficult transformation; and the healing that lay beyond.

Ishmael Beah’s debut is an invaluable, insightful lesson in hostility and humanity. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a must.

From the jacket: Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by the war. His work has appeared in VespertinePress and LIT magazine. He lives in New York City.

For more information on this dynamic author and The Ishmael Beah Foundation, click here.

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