Monday, February 2, 2009

A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

From the book jacket: This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. 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 it is rare to find a first-person account from someone who endured this hell and survived. In" A Long Way Gone Beah," now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: 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.

My thoughts: This was not an "enjoyable" book to read. It wasn't meant to be. I was left with a feeling similar to the one I had after reading Elie Wiesel's Night. A sense of depressed wonder at what humans can do to other humans. I thought it would be filled with descriptions of gore. Even though it tells some horrific things, the book is much more than that. It tells of his life before the war, how he ran from it and how he was caught up in it, and finally how he was saved. I read other's reviews and found many that said there were a lot of inaccuracies in this book. I haven't researched it, but feel if even a fraction is true, if he spent only a few months in the army as a child soldier instead of two years, that is still a few month too many for a child to be used like that. This will hang heavy on my heart.

Go here to watch a video of an interview of the author on Nightline.
Go here for links to more info about the author & his cause.


Dennis the Vizsla said...

I don't read much nonfiction, but I read this one -- it was an interesting memoir.

samantha.1020 said...

I'm planning on reading this one soon. I'm nervous to read it though because I know it isn't going to be an easy read. Great review!