My new friends have begun to suspect I havent told them the full story of my life.
Why did you leave Sierra Leone?
Because there is a war.
You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?
Yes, all the time.
I smile a little.
You should tell us about it sometime.
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 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, hed 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.
Since the time A Long Way Gone was published reporters have faulted the accuracy of some of the claims made. As of April 2012, the Internal Revenue Service has faulted the Ishmael Beah Foundation (IBF) for failing to comply with tax regulations. According to Guidestar, a leading provider of information on charities, "This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted."
There were all kinds of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was happening in a faraway and different land. It wasnt until refugees started passing through our town that we began to see that it was actually taking place in our country. Families who had walked hundreds of miles told how relatives had been killed and their houses burned. Some people felt sorry for them and offered them places to stay, but most of the refugees refused, because they said the war would eventually reach our town. The children of these families wouldnt look at us, and they jumped at the sound of chopping wood or as stones landed on the tin roofs flung by children hunting birds with slingshots. The adults among these children from the war zones would be lost in their thoughts during conversations with the elders of my town. Apart from their fatigue and malnourishment, it was evident they had seen something that plagued their minds, something ...
Representing the multitude whose stories will never be heard, Beah's memoir is honest, raw and unforgettable.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1218 words).
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a small country with a population of about 5.3 million on the west coast of Africa bordered by Guinea and Liberia. The life expectancy of men is 39 years and women 42 years. The name is an adaptation of the Portuguese, "serra leoa" (lion mountains). During the 18th century it was an important center for the slave trade. In the late 18th century, British abolitionists and the Sierra Leone Company founded Freetown as a home for Black Britons* and in 1808 the country became the ...
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