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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Ishmael Beah
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,659 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 5, 2008

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.


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beah's harrowing story of a boy caught up in the civil strife in Sierra Leone is not an audio to curl up with before bedtime. Beah's even-toned narrative is particularly disturbing because it's almost exactly the same whether he is enjoying the company of a newly found uncle or busy shooting and maiming rebels and even burying them alive. His monotone works particularly well when he is recounting his dreams, for he cannot distinguish his nightmares from his waking life. Beah speaks with a thick accent that omits th sounds. Many words are understandable in their context, but a few are not. He also stumbles over some longer and more complex words. Despite these drawbacks, Beah's tale is a riveting snapshot of childhoods stolen from all too many, not just in Sierra Leone but in Somalia, Iraq, Palestine and other places ravaged by civil wars.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This gripping story by a children's-rights advocate recounts his experiences as a boy growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, during one of the most brutal and violent civil wars in recent history. Beah, a boy equally thrilled by causing mischief as by memorizing passages from Shakespeare and dance moves from hip-hop videos, was a typical precocious 12-year-old. But rebel forces destroyed his childhood innocence when they hit his village, driving him to leave his home and travel the arid deserts and jungles of Africa. After several months of struggle, he was recruited by the national army, made a full soldier and learned to shoot an AK-47, and hated everyone who came up against the rebels. The first two thirds of his memoir are frightening: how easy it is for a normal boy to transform into someone as addicted to killing as he is to the cocaine that the army makes readily available. But an abrupt change occurred a few years later when agents from the United Nations pulled him out of the army and placed him in a rehabilitation center. Anger and hate slowly faded away, and readers see the first glimmers of Beah's work as an advocate. Told in a conversational, accessible style, this powerful record of war ends as a beacon to all teens experiencing violence around them by showing them that there are other ways to survive than by adding to the chaos.—Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Audio CD: 7 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427206465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427206466
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,659 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A long way gone by Ishmael Beah was a fantastic novel and I now understand why it's on the best seller list. This book is for those who don't mind a gory, detailed, but beautifully told fiction story told in first person. The action in the book was graphic and gave the reader a clear picture of what was going on. The language and the read itself was easy but, I would not recommend this book to those who are under the age of fourteen-fifteen years of age. There isn't anything I would criticize harshly, maybe I am biased, but Ishmael had a story to tell and he told it well. The book flowed smoothly and I never got bored or too anxious to know what was next because it had already happened. I've only ever heard about these wars and never read about them before. Reading this book has changed my perspective on life completely for the better. Becoming more aware and actually being able to read about first hand child soldier really opens ones eyes. I'm very fortunate to live the life I do and sometimes I forget that. This book will open one's eyes on what was and still is happening today in Africa and maybe it will inspire one to do something about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys And Their Deadly Toys October 16, 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The trials and tribulations endured by young Mr. Beah are beyond most of our nightmares. Just give teenagers a copy of 'A Long Way Gone' the next time they complain about not having the latest electronic doodad. Heck, also give the memoir to any adult griping about such "ordeals" as rush-hour traffic, their fast food order not coming fast enough, or that their favorite tv show has been preempted. This is not a happy book by any means measured. It is devoid of humor and, despite knowing Mr. Beah survives and relocates out of the African hellhole known as Sierra Leone, the memoir was a tense, depressing read.

'A Long Way Gone' is a world of civil war barbarism. Mr. Beah's memoir focuses on his experiences and avoids explaining other horrible dynamics such as the roles of politics, arms dealers, and the drug trade. Sierra Leone seems to be a mixture of severe rural backwardness and a few small pockets of quasi-urban progressiveness. The whole country, however, is a house of cards and eventually collapses into widespread chaos. The fact that the author survives is next to a miracle.

Mr. Beah's delivers his story in a matter-of-fact recitation without any flowery prose. It was the most disturbing aspect of 'A Long Way Gone'. His descriptions of boy soldiers and villagers of all ages being butchered is described with as much emotion as buttering a piece of toast. I can't imagine the countless psychological scars the guy must be carrying around inside that head of his. It is an important book that would do a world of good for people who glorify war or bitch about superficial nonsense. After reading 'A Long Way Gone', even Darth Vader would think many earthlings have gone overboard with embracing the Dark Side.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Human Faces to Boy Soldiers April 10, 2017
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"A Long Way Gone" is actually the second book by Ishmael Beah that I have had the pleasure of reading. I initially fell upon his book "Radiance of Tomorrow" at the beginning of my book journey, and it definitely helped to set the tone in regards to my book choices.

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.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, Heartbreaking, Horrifying, Inspiring February 17, 2007
Format:Hardcover
There are, according to UNICEF, over 300,000 children employed as soldiers in various wars around the world. Ishmael Beah, author of this simple but eloquent memoir, was one of them. His powerful and disturbing book shows the full range of humankind's capacity for good and evil.

His direct and unadorned language, and the contrast he draws between his happy childhood and the hellish nightmare of a savage civil war in which he was compelled to commit atrocities, make his narrative truly spellbinding. His account is also a testament to the revivifying power of love, which he found after UNICEF workers saved and helped rehabilitate him.

My only criticism is that this book ends too abruptly, with him leaving Sierra Leone for Guinea. From the book jacket, it is clear that Ishmael Beah accomplished much with his life since leaving Africa. I would like to have read more about his life in the United States. I hope he writes again.

This account of a child at war is sad enough to break your heart, but it is inspiring to know that Ishmael has survived. I hope someday no children will have to fight in wars. Better yet, I hope someday no adults will either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing courage!
To think a young boy could go through so much, to lose so much and then be able to reclaim his life is hard to believe and makes you wonder why some people are blessed with such... Read more
Published 23 hours ago by Mary Lou Staehle
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
Awesome
Published 3 days ago by Dominic
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Very good and well written. How could anyone go through all that and still be lucid and sympathetic
Published 3 days ago by Just Sharon
4.0 out of 5 stars The essence of a troublesome journey
I bought this book from Seoul, South Korea when I was on my first international trip. The cover picture and the title of the book attracted me to pick this book. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Pradeep Janardhanan
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-breaking
I can't absolutely love a story like this. Heart-breaking, horrifying. I commend Beah with sharing his life in a way that challenges but isn't unnecessarily gruesome. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Lisa J. Lickel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very insightful I definitely recommend
Published 21 days ago by Allie
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a wonderful book that made me have a different perspective for...
It was a wonderful book that made me have a different perspective for kids point of view during a war. Not only that but the book came in two days with no damages.
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Pretty good!
Published 22 days ago by Abas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Extremely compelling.
Published 23 days ago by Julie L Goldberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
It was great. I love how he lived to tell his story.
Published 25 days ago by Nika
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