A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Book rating: 05 Paperback Farrar, Strauß and Giroux

By (author) Ishmael Beah

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  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 229 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 211mm x 20mm | 136g
  • Publication date: 5 August 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0374531269
  • ISBN 13: 9780374531263
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 12,361

Product description

""My 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-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 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 survived. In "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.

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Author information

Ishmael Beah was born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, West Africa. His writing has appeared in The "New York Times Magazine, Vespertine Press, LIT, Parabola," and numerous academic journals. He is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War; a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Advisory Committee; an advisory board member at the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; visiting scholar at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University; visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University; cofounder of the Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW); and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation. He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and many panels on the effects of war on children. His book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" has been published in over thirty languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007. Time magazine named the book as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2007, ranking it at number three. Ishmael Beah is a graduate of Oberlin College with a B.A. in Political Science and resides in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently completing a novel set in his home country of Sierra Leone.

Customer reviews

By Jennifer Anne Matthews 10 Jan 2011 5

A serious memoir everyone should have in their home library.

A touching true life story of one boy's strength, courage and determination to take on a leadership role and help pull a group of friends through an on going war zone in hopes to track down their families.

Read as their friendships grow into brotherhood and where water runs just as thick as blood in order to fight for their survival through a terrible war between one nations own people.

One wrong move, one wrong answer and life is gone in a flash.

I was moved deeply by the beautiful writing and captivating descriptions through each chapter. A book so moving, at some points I needed to stop and compose myself in disbelief and in utter sadness that his experiences were 100% real. A book filled with bitter sweet moments that leaves an ever lasting impression once the last page has been turned.

The author is an inspiration to all. A must read!

By TeensReadToo 20 Sep 2010 5

Imagine, you live in a village; you know, the ones without electricity and plumbing? You get water from the river for your mother so she can cook dinner but, when you come back, the village is ablaze and everyone is running. Not just running in one direction but everywhere; screaming, yelling, falling down dead.

This is what causes Ishmael Beah's childhood to be lost.

Beah starts out as a quiet, peace-loving boy who suddenly is on the run from all the destruction and terror with his older brother, Junior, and some friends. After months of wandering on paths and in the forest, they come to a farm outside of a village. Beah finds out his family is in the village and as a group they start walking. Then the rebels attack and his family is dead.

Torn, tired, and angry, Beah will eventually lose everything he cared about; his family, his health (both mentally and physically), and almost his life. As a boy soldier recruited by the Sierra Leone Army he changes drastically. Drugs, energy stimulants, and other illegal acts (in the United States) cause him to kill without thinking, never even cringing at the sight of death and basically causing him to feel almost inhuman.

A LONG WAY GONE is Ishmael Beah's memoir based on his experiences and the tragic events of his life. I loved this book because it was a huge eye-opener about the war in Sierra Leone and how it affected everyone, even children. I also believe that everyone should read this book at least once in their life time. Maybe then people can help those who have become boy soldiers or anyone affected by a war. Maybe A LONG WAY GONE could change the world, make it a more peaceful place; that is what I hope can happen.

Review quote

“Everyone in the world should read this book. Not just because it contains an amazing story, or because it’s our moral, bleeding-heart duty, or because it’s clearly written. We should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human.” —"Washington Post" “A breathtaking and unselfpitying account of how a gentle spirit survives a childhood from which all innocence has suddenly been sucked out.  It's a truly riveting memoir.” —"Time "" " " " “Beah is a gifted writer. . . Read his memoir and you will be haunted . . . It’s a high price to pay, but it’s worth it.” —"Newsweek.com" “Deeply moving, even uplifting…Beah's story, with its clear-eyed reporting and literate particularity—whether he's dancing to rap, eating a coconut or running toward the burning village where his family is trapped—demands to be read.” —"People "(Crit