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."
Wall Street Journal - John Corry
Mr. Beah's recountings are unadorned, believable and unsparing as he tells us about a conflict we never knew much about.
Washington Post - Carolyn See
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.
Elle Magazine - Melissa Fay Greene
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.
The New York Times - William Boyd
Beah’s memoir joins an elite class of writing: Africans witnessing African wars…. A Long Way Gone makes you wonder how anyone comes through such unrelenting ghastliness and horror with his humanity and sanity intact. Unusually, the smiling, open face of the author on the book jacket provides welcome and timely reassurance. Ishmael Beah seems to prove it can happen.
Beah's halting narrative has confusing time shifts, but it's hideously effective in conveying the essential horror of his experiences.
Beah writes with frankness and honesty about his experiences but also with other people in mind; his account of the healing process after the horrors he saw is remarkable. His book, especially relevant in today's world, should be in all high school, public, and academic libraries.
Starred Review. Told in clear, accessible language by a young writer with a gifted literary voice, this memoir seems destined to become a classic firsthand account of war
The Guardian (UK)
Extraordinary . . . A ferocious and desolate account of how ordinary children were turned into professional killers
Sebastian Junger, author of A Death in Belmont and A Perfect Storm
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.
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 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.
Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
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.
Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle: A Memoir 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.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by FLAG WOW WOW! i never thought this book would be like this. I thought it was going to be another boring one that we read in high school but it's not. ANyone who thinks about not reading this book shouldn't, they just need to read it. No option. READ IT!... Read More
Rated of 5
by Karissa WOW!!! this book is amazing and so... i don't even know how to explain it! What really amazed me was the fact that this is happening. I didn't even realize that these things are happening in our world today! I recommend this book to ANYONE! The way he... Read More
Rated of 5
by Alec Nassirzadeh A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Book Review “A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” is written by Ishmael Beah. This book is an inspirational truthful story about Ishmael Beah and his difficult childhood. Our book club group’s first impression of the book was that it is a vicious and... Read More
Rated of 5
by JD a long way gone This book, A Long Way Gone, was a very touchy heart-felt story. It is about a young African boy who has only heard of war never seen it. Until it hits his village. Now he goes from village to village with his brothers trying to avoid it. This book... Read More
Rated of 5
by deedee Wonderful i thought that this book was extremely awesome. It was a little on the graphic side but not to much for me to handle. I recommend this book to everyone alive.
Rated of 5
by sexy_lil_thinq This book is great This book is very interesting. Even though it goes back and forth with the past and present its still great...It's a very emotional/touching book..I would recommend this book to many people based on my experience with it
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
first British colony in Africa.
By 1821 Freetown was the seat of
government for all British
colonies in West Africa.
Sierra Leone gained its
independence in 1961. In 1967 a
military coup deposed Premier...
Humanitarian workers define courage in the 21st century. This book gives voice to their stories, to their ability to survive
in the face of death, to their humanity to one another and to those they seek
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A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...