Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael, Junior, and Talloi were on their way to Mattru Jong to participate in a talent show as rappers. They had been working on a rap and dance group for four years now, since they had seen a rap group perform on TV. Once they arrive to Mattru Jong, they soon discover that their hometown had just been attacked by the Rebels. Upon hearing the news, they race back home as safely as they can to see if their families made it out alive. By the time they get to their destroyed village, it’s obvious to see that anyone who made it out alive was long gone. The boys travel far and wide, just trying to find safety, food, family, and shelter.
After a year of running, Ishmael finds shelter at an army base—a place he felt was his best bet at survival. Soon after he arrived, he and any other boy in the base that was big enough to hold a gun was trained and thrown into the front line. After many successful missions, Ishmael was awarded junior Lieutenant. At age 16, he and several other young men at the base were taken by men in UNICEF uniforms to have a fresh start at life. Though a wonderful ambition, these boys have been trained to kill or be killed for many years now. This was Ishmael’s first time to part with his protector, his beloved AK-47. The boys were taken to a rehabilitation facility where they would learn to value life, love, and forgiveness once again. The journey isn’t easy as they struggle with PTSD and withdrawals from violence and drugs. Though put through many trials, their mentors refuse to give up on them. This is a true autobiography by Ishmael Beah, telling of his survival during the Rebel war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Those who read his story will be given a first-hand glimpse of his brave and courageous life during the war and his recovery. Note: This book contains a substantial amount of graphic war violence, as well as physical abuse and drug use. Although gruesome, it is a very eye-opening reality to what many experienced in the war. 229 pgs, pb.
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 the #1 New York Times bestseller, 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.