- Lexile Measure: 920 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 229 pages
- Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; 1st edition (August 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374531269
- ISBN-13: 978-0374531263
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,775 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Paperback – August 5, 2008
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“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 (Critic's Choice, Four stars)
“Beah's memoir, A Long Way Gone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), is unforgettable testimony that Africa's children--millions of them dying and orphaned by preventable diseases, hundreds of thousands of them forced into battle--have eyes to see and voices to tell what has happened. And what voices! How is it possible that 26-year-old Beah, a nonnative English speaker, separated from his family at age 12, taught to maim and to kill at 13, can sound such notes of family happiness, of friendship under duress, of quiet horror? No outsider could have written this book, and it's hard to imagine that many insiders could do so with such acute vision, stark language, and tenderness. It is a heart-rending achievement.” ―Melissa Fay Greene, Elle
“When Beah is finally approached about the possibility of serving as a spokesperson on the issue of child soldiers, he knows exactly what he wants to tell the world: "I would always tell people that I believe children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance.
Others may make the same assertions, but Beah has the advantage of stating them in the first person. That makes A Long Way Gone all the more gripping.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“In place of a text that has every right to be a diatribe against Sierra Leone, globalization or even himself, Beah has produced a book of such self-effacing humanity that refugees, political fronts and even death squads resolve themselves back into the faces of mothers, fathers and siblings. A Long Way Gone transports us into the lives of thousands of children whose lives have been altered by war, and it does so with a genuine and disarmingly emotional force.” ―Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“What Beah saw and did during [the war] has haunted him ever since, and if you read his stunning and unflinching memoir, you'll be haunted, too . . . It would have been enough if Ishmael Beah had merely survived the horrors described in A Long Way Gone. That he has written this unforgettable firsthand account of his odyssey is harder still to grasp. Those seeking to understand the human consequences of war, its brutal and brutalizing costs, would be wise to reflect on Ishmael Beah's story.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer
“Beah speaks in a distinctive voice, and he tells an important story.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“Hideously effective in conveying the essential horror of his experiences.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Extraordinary . . . A ferocious and desolate account of how ordinary children were turned into professional killers.” ―The Guardian UK
“A Long Way Gone is one of the most important war stories of our generation. The arming of children is among the greatest evils of the modern world, and yet we know so little about it because the children themselves are swallowed up by the very wars they are forced to wage. Ishmael Beah has not only emerged intact from this chaos, he has become one of its most eloquent chroniclers. We ignore his message at our peril.” ―Sebastian Junger, author of A Death in Belmont and A Perfect Storm
“This is a beautifully written book about a shocking war and the children who were forced to fight it. Ishmael Beah describes the unthinkable in calm, unforgettable language; his memoir is an important testament to the children elsewhere who continue to be conscripted into armies and militias.” ―Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for general Nonfiction
“This is a wrenching, beautiful, and mesmerizing tale. Beah's amazing saga provides a haunting lesson about how gentle folks can be capable of great brutalities as well goodness and courage. It will leave you breathless.” ―Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
“A Long Way Gone hits you hard in the gut with Sierra Leone's unimaginable brutality and then it touches your soul with unexpected acts of kindness. Ishmael Beah's story tears your heart to pieces and then forces you to put it back together again, because if Beah can emerge from such horror with his humanity in tact, it's the least you can do.” ―Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle: A Memoir
About the Author
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.
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Ishmael tells his story is a very straightforward way and in that manner shows his innocence and how it is taken from him. In his search for his family, he shows his innocence in comparison to what is going on around him. Even as he gives up on finding his family. His need and hope to survive is at the base of his actions.
While reading this book it was clear the kind of violence took place in Sierra Leon, what wasn’t clear was what the competing groups were fighting for. It was mind-boggling to read about villages being burned and people killed for no apparent reason.
A good book to read about how and where the boy soldiers came from, especially how adults around them transformed them from being innocent children into deadly killers.
Like many things in the news, boy soldiers was something I heard and read about, but it was such an abstract concept to me. It didn't sound real, it didn't sound possible. Furthermore, I lacked the necessary background knowledge on the context of these conflicts that were creating these boy soldiers.
It is a privilege to have been able to sit back and just hear about children being trained to be soldiers by not only rebel groups but the governing bodies of countries. It is a privilege to have been almost totally unaware and uneducated on the plight of people in countries like Sierra Leone. It is a privilege that I try to be aware of and recognize, and books like "A Long Way Gone" and "Radiance of Tomorrow" are instrumental in checking my privilege.
Through "A Long Way Gone", Ishmael Beah takes boy soldiers out of the abstract and into the realm of reality, giving the term "boy solider" the human faces that have been wiped by such an umbrella term.
There was a bit of controversy regarding this book, primarily because people were skeptical to the actuality of this story. "A Long Way Gone" is intended to be a memoir of Ishmael Beah's own journey as a child soldier, and there were supposedly conflicts in the timeline. However, regardless of whether or not this story was the true experience of Ishmael Beah, it cannot be denied that he shares with the world a story that must be exposed and shared. He also raises many ethical questions in regards to child soldiers and how they are dehumanized.
Ishmael takes you through the full scope of what being a child soldier entails, including the aftermath. More specifically the rehabilitation that is required and the re-entry into mainstream society.
A lot like "The Memory of Lost Skin", this book challenged my perceptions of criminality and rehabilitation. With child soldiers, society condemns them and takes away their status as children because of the atrocities they are brainwashed to commit. Nevertheless, at the end of the day these children are STILL children, and if we are to ensure that they do not continue on a violent life course, we need to believe they can be rehabilitated and take the necessary measures to do so. The human brain is most plastic at younger ages, so making efforts to rehabilitate children will help to mitigate the creation of a whole generation of adults that perpetuate violence due to the residual effects of these conflicts.
This is definitely not an easy read, particularly when you realize these are real events that have occurred to thousands of boys in Sierra Leone and other countries. However, if you want to understand what it means to be a boy solider, this would be a good place to start. A good read to accompany "A Long Way Gone" is "What is the What" by Dave Eggers. Compliments well the story of "A Long Way Gone", and gives a differing perspective, i.e. what happens if you are "fortunate" enough to escape being taken as a child solider. Keep in mind "What is the What" covers an entirely different topic (The Lost Boys of Sudan), but it is essential in helping one realize that all these things are connected and not just isolated events.
His story is riveting and the thoughtful way he writes makes this an incredible read. The sad realities of a war torn country and the corruption, desperation and killing that went on during his time are mind bending. Humans can be so good and so bad. The author has redeemed himself via great insight.
Most recent customer reviews
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