Ishamel Beah was a normal 12-year-old boy living in a rural area of Sierra Leone - going to school, forming a rap band in imitation of the American singers he idolized and (perhaps not so usual) reciting speeches from Shakespeare in the town square for the benefit of his father and other members of the community. One day he, his brother and a friend went to the local town to compete in a talent show. While they were away their village was pillaged by rebel forces. In an instant their childhoods were swept away as they fled for their lives not knowing if any of their family were still alive. For months, Beah and a small group of ragged boys, traveled from village to frightened village trying to stay one step ahead of the rebels while finding enough food ...
In 2008, in the wake of the exposure of various 'fictional' memoirs such as those by James Frey, The Australian newspaper called into question some of Beah's claims - not that he had ever been a child soldier but that certain events that happened in the course of his narrative were known to have taken place at times different to his recollection which, if correct, meant that he could not have served as a child soldier for as long as his memoir states and that the age that he would have joined would have been closer to 15, not 13 years old. Beah denied all The Australian's allegations and pushed back saying that this was the second attack by the publication which had formerly claimed that his father was still alive, which was later shown to be a ...
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