Customer Reviews


62 Reviews
5 star:
 (33)
4 star:
 (22)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible and moving story of survival against all odds
There are few first person accounts from Sudanese refugees and none that I know of from former 'lost boy' who actually served in the SPLA. This frightening, honest, gritty, and often unsettling account of the events that shaped Jal's life is well worth reading. It is one of those books where the substance is so critically important that it overshadows any shortcomings...
Published on December 2, 2008 by Jojoleb

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and amazing
His story is absolutely incredible. The book takes you to the war zone from the child's perspective and you realize how many, all over the world, have Emmanuel's story. Absolutely worth the read.
Published on August 20, 2009 by Alejandro Rosa


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible and moving story of survival against all odds, December 2, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are few first person accounts from Sudanese refugees and none that I know of from former 'lost boy' who actually served in the SPLA. This frightening, honest, gritty, and often unsettling account of the events that shaped Jal's life is well worth reading. It is one of those books where the substance is so critically important that it overshadows any shortcomings in the writing.

War Child is the autobiography of Emmanual Jal and details his journey from Sudanese refugee to international rapper. From the outset, we know the beginning and the end of the story as it is outlined in the first chapter.

Jal's story begins as he is forced to flee with his family from village to village in order to escape civil war. At age 7 he is told that he is to go to school so that he can be part of Sudan's future. But given a turn of events he is 'educated' by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and becomes a child soldier. Eventually, he becomes a 'Lost Boy' adoptee of British aide worker, Emma McCune which leads him on a path to spiritual and emotional healing. The book leads up to the present day where he is a popular Christian rapper and social advocate for change in the Sudan.

But this book is not an easy read. And it is not for the faint of heart. It deals with a young boy growing up in a brutal and unforgiving environment. He speaks of all the atrocities that occurred (and continue to occur) in Sudan. This includes the brutalities of war, cold blooded killing, rape, starvation, and death. Jal's survival is as much due to luck as it is due to his intelligence and his skill. Jal writes in short, punctuated chapters. The sparse prose may reflect the fact that English is his third language but also suits the subject matter well. He tells his story simply and with integrity.

However, the book is not without flaws. Some of these issues may be edited more thoroughly when the book is officially released and may be a function of the fact that I received a reviewer's copy of the manuscript and not the final document. One gets the sense that Jal dictated the manuscript and that his editor/secondary author transcribed the dictations. Occasionally, the reader gets confused about the timing of certain events and at times there are obvious contradictions in the manuscript. Some events are recounted in minute detail. At other times, events are skipped altogether or simply glossed over resulting in confusion on the part of the reader.

But remember, the author is trying to recall events that occurred when he was as young as 7 years old and his memories may not be complete or exactly in order. The prose could be tightened a bit in the middle section where he recounts skirmishes and life in the SPLA. The narrative gives us the sense of the heartlessness and emotionlessness of the child soldier who is motivated by hate. The monotony of this kind of existence is apparent but may be over stressed.

After reading the book, I decided to listen to some of Jal's recordings. Even though I am not a fan of rap, I couldn't help but be moved by his music. As in the book, he bares himself wide open on stage and in recordings. The poetry is not perfect. The music is okay. The rap may not be the most sophisticated. But Jal's reality supersedes his medium. You can't help but feel the gravity of his sentiment because he actually lived through the horror--he's the real thing.

His book is the real thing too. The power of his story resonates easily with the reader and supersedes any of the aforementioned flaws. This is a powerful story of a boy becoming a man and surviving in spite of the odds. It is also a story of love overcoming hate. It is a must-read and I highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stark reality..., June 18, 2009
A Kid's Review
We hear about the wars and conflicts and suffering in Africa but as soon as you turn off the TV or close the magazine or put down the paper it goes away and it is easily forgotten. This book changed that for me. Since reading this book it has continued to come back to me. It seems that it is not so easy to forget once you know someone this has happened to. The atrocities are almost surreal, but I know they are real and I started to care about what was happening to this boy. While not a perfect book it made what has and is still happening very real for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to read, December 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have been wanting to read this book for years and finally purchased a little more than a month ago and was very excited to begin. The first 50 pages or so were difficult but manageable as the horrors that Emmanuel saw were unbelievable, yet something that should be shared. I finally put the book down for good yesterday at page 104 after walking away from it for several weeks distancing myself from the horrors of war that he and other children were forced to endure.

Emmanuel did an excellent job of recapturing the horror, fear, and impossibility of his situation. My heart exploded when he watched in horror what was done to his family and knowing that he was not only too young to witness these horrible acts, but also because he was too young to even understand some of the events that were occurring. His descriptions were vivid and life-like...I still remember vividly the horror I felt when he described the events between he and his friend during training.

My intent of this review is not to bash the book as it was very well written and drew you in. However, I do wish there were more reviews avaialable before I purchased the book that let me know how emotionally draining and heart-wrenching it was to read. I have never not finished a book that I thought was well-written with a great story line...However, the horrors of this situation truly made reading anymore unbearable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and amazing, August 20, 2009
His story is absolutely incredible. The book takes you to the war zone from the child's perspective and you realize how many, all over the world, have Emmanuel's story. Absolutely worth the read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another child soldier's story, December 24, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a disturbing tale of life in war torn Sudan, and unfortunately it is a familiar tale for too many nations in Africa. The use of child soldiers has become a heavily documented phenomena, whether it is in Sudan, the Congo or Uganda and elsewhere this is a terrible practice that is destroying the youth and the future of this tormented continent.

Jal's story is a horrific tale of loss and suffering. It details the way in which normal kids are turned into unfeeling killers. Instead of learning to read or write children like Jal are taught to endure pain, how to shoot and kill their enemy and how to suppress every emotion except for their hate. The process starts with seeing bodies and death all around them as they are forced to flee one war torn area after another. As one by one their family members disappear or are killed in front of them. This goes on until finally a militia gets a hold of them, and once that happens their fear and confusion is directed into hate for the ones who have caused them so much pain.

The reason this story is so awful is because it is so common. Jal's story is not unique, but it is just one of many thousands. As more and more of these books are written the story adds greater texture to the whole picture, and what becomes more and more apparent is the commonality of the story. While each militia in all the different areas may have different techniques for creating child soldiers, in the end the process boils down to brutalization.

These books are never easy reads, and the endings are never quite happy but they are a necessary read nonetheless.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly well-written, but incredibly horrific., July 16, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit, I was not strong enough to get all the way through this memoir. Although it is extremely well-written, gripping and vivid, the tale it tells is just so awful and depressing that after a few chapters, I could not read any more. The same thing happened to me recently when I tried to read "The Grapes of Wrath". Due to the current economic climate, Steinbeck's great novel was just too painful a read.

Would I recommend this book to others? The answer is definitely "yes" if the reader wants to know more about the horrors of war and racism. It is also a good book to read if you find yourself thinking that you are living a hard life or that life has been unfair to you. This book will make you count your blessings. It is like a hard slap to the face.

The curious thing is that I have no problem watching films that deal with these types of horrors. As upsetting and depressing as they may be, they only last around 2 hours. A book like this takes me many more hours to read, and I found it just too emotionally grueling. I am almost ashamed to admit that. But it is the truth.

I may go back and read more, because the story apparently has a somewhat happy ending...I just need to grit my teeth and gird my emotional loins.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspring, May 9, 2011
The author came to my school to speak and I thought it was very inspiring so I bought the book. It was even more descriptive and heartbreaking. I don't usually read biographies but when he came to my school and told his story, I had never heard of something like that and it was a very unique experience. This book gave me more insight into things that i had no idea were going on in the world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of horror and hope, December 23, 2008
By 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Emmanuel Jal has not had an easy life. Living in a Sudan village, his young life was filled with conflict, civil war and death. As a child, he was taken from his family and forced into the Sudan People's Liberation Army. For almost 10 years, he was forced to fight, and starved, and he often considered suicide.

But Jal persevered. He's a strong man, a man with vision that saw beyond the unimaginable difficulties he faced, and he has since gone on to be an award-winning musician. This is his story.

In War Child: A Child Soldier's Story, Jal tells his tale in raw, honest language. We're with him as he drills in the child soldier camps and as he has frightening evenings on guard and as he faces the terror of bullets meant to kill him. And that's just scratching the surface. The ups and downs of the trials he faces are relentless. How he came away intact, I don't know.

War Child is a portrait of a fascinating man, yes, but it's more than that. It's a window into a world most in the Western Hemisphere will never know. A world they can't even IMAGINE. A world in which children are sent to fight and die, and a world in which you experience more horror by the age of 13 than most of us do in a lifetime.

Very moving and very powerful, some of the images here will shock and sadden you, yet the end of Jal's tale - though I suspect his story is only just beginning - offers some hope amid all that death. And that is a very wonderful thing.

A worthy read. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look back without anger, December 16, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Emmanuel Jal's book War Child is a great review of the continuing war in a really forgotten place - south Sudan. While we think of Darfur and the problems there recently, it's hard to remember that the north and the south of Sudan have been fighting for close to two decades. Jal writes as one of the Lost Boys, a group of children taken from their families and trained as soldiers, who fought with southern militias organized by the Nuer and Dinka tribesmen against the militia and government forces of Sudan. This boils down to a story about an oppressive government stealing resources from the minority, but in this case the government is primarily Muslim fighting to take oil lands from Christian and anamist southern Sudanese.

Jal traces his life in a series of vignettes as the war begins. He and his family flee the fighting and cross into Ethiopia, where he is eventually taken from his family and entered into the militia to fight the governmental forces. He becomes a soldier and learns to hate the government soldiers. Eventually the guerilla army breaks into two factions and starts fighting each other. He, and a number of people with him, leave to join one faction, and he is found and taken to Kenya for education.

Jal is lucky, in that he was removed from the fighting relatively early in his life and had an opportunity for further education in Kenya and in the UK. As he matured he learned to adjust to civilian behavior and gained some popularity for his musical skills, which are what has made him more visible and given him a sense of status among those who are highlighting the issues of the people of south Sudan.

The book is a bit slap dash, jumping from scene to scene, the recollections of a nine or ten year old many years removed. Still, the deprivation and challenges that many of these people faced, and the lack of concern from the UN or other peacekeeping agencies is reflected even today. Jal's book is not an easy one to read, but it is worth reading to learn more about the continuing war in Sudan.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening account of the child soldier, May 19, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was drawn to this book out of a desire to understand more about what a friend went though... a friend who was a child soldier at the age of 10, escaping 2 years later.

As most people know, the Sudan has been a horrific war zone, and this is the account of Jal, a young boy who witnesses the horror and is recruited as a soldier through his school after his mother dies. From here he is inducted into the army and trained to kill and torture.

Through his ordeal, Jal suffers tremendously, violence permeating every aspect of his life as he watches friends die, and nearly joins them, except for the aid workers who gave him a second chance at life, and a way out of the horror his life has become.

I believe this book is of tremendous value. The fact that children are being recruited as soldiers and trained to kill and torture in horrible ways is unknown to most people here in the United States. When I was 15 and learned what my friend had been through, I was horrified. I never imagined such things existed. How does a 10 year old survive such things... how do they recover from the emotional horrors of what they experienced, of what they did? For all of them, it's a very long road. We need more awareness of such things, for only through knowledge will we find a way to put an end to such abuses.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

War Child: A Child Soldier's Story
War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by Emmanuel Jal (Audio CD - February 3, 2009)
$39.95 $15.98
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.