5" x 8"
A Long Way Gone
Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
A haunting, beautifully written memoir, the first ever written by a former boy soldier.
'My high school friends in New York City have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life,' writes Ishmael Beah:
' "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."'
This is how wars are fought now: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What does war look 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: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: 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.
ISHMAEL BEAH was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. At the age of thirteen, his life was interrupted by a civil war that claimed his family. He was forced to become a child solider for three years. In 1996, he was disarmed and taken out of the army by a United Nations sponsored program. He came to the United States when he was seventeen and graduated from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 2004. Beah is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations on several occasions. He lives in New York City, where he is a senior at the United Nations high school.
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