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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier | [Ishmael Beah]

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than 50 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 26 years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: how, at the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence.
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Publisher's Summary

This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than 50 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 26 years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: how, at the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By 13, 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.

©2007 Ishmael Beah (P)2007 Macmillan Audio

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4.4 (216 )
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  •  
    B. Bunt Seattle, WA USA 11-01-13
    B. Bunt Seattle, WA USA 11-01-13

    EmergVet

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Author's voice"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I appreciated that the account was written and narrated by a boy with first-hand experience. He explains his fear and struggle for survival from his own experiences and you begin to understand, reluctantly, how an innocent child with such a big heart could perform such atrocities. You also learn that these tainted children, at least some of them, have the capacity for rehabilitation and the ability to attain happiness after such horrible experiences full of hatred and violence. His story makes you question humanity, but his survival and recovery will return hope and faith of the good in this world. This book makes you want to become an activist for the plight of these children and their families.


    What about Ishmael Beah’s performance did you like?

    I like that it was his story; it added to the narrative knowing it was his experiences he was telling you about.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It did get under my skin and I had a hard time not thinking about it when I was away.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos Ulloa 04-23-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved"

    This book was amazing. I read a lot and I've never read something like this!! I'm happy I Read It

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Waterbury,Ct 04-17-14
    Amazon Customer Waterbury,Ct 04-17-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating and tragic story"
    If you could sum up A Long Way Gone in three words, what would they be?

    Sad yet hopeful.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like that he was able to be rescued from the life of child soldier and go on to present about these issues at the UN.


    What does Ishmael Beah bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It's his memories. One thing is when he signs some of the songs that made him happy as a kid, you can tell they still do.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 04-22-15
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 04-22-15 Member Since 2015

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intense, but not intense enough"

    This is a story of a 12 year old boy’s life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. The writing is first person and author narrated, but did not strike me as intensely personal, or brutally honest, or deeply introspective. It effectively tells the story of how a normal kid becomes a killer, and then returns to some level of normalcy. If you are not familiar with the issue of child soldiers, this book is an excellent introduction.

    I expect quite a lot from a memoir. In this case I heard the author’s intense story, but I also felt the author held back the very worst and the potentially most powerful. It is completely understandable for a young man (now 26) to be unready to express the fullness of the story, but a memoir should await that readiness.

    The narration is good, but a bit dry and in a very few places difficult to understand.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the issues surrounding child soldiers, but as a memoir, or as literature, I found it weak.

    There is an appendix dryly recapping the history of Sierra Leone which seemed a pretty odd way to end a memoir.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles 12-31-14
    Charles 12-31-14 Member Since 2013
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    "An Eye-opening Read."

    I am very glad to have opened myself up to the harsh reality that others have experienced. My life and the way I see things have truly changed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake Rexburg, ID, United States 10-03-13
    Jake Rexburg, ID, United States 10-03-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Read"
    Where does A Long Way Gone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    A Long Way Gone is among the top 20 Audiobooks I've heard.


    What other book might you compare A Long Way Gone to and why?

    Pertaining to the corrupt use of power and the effects of agency I would say Killing Pablo was another captivating book describing evil.


    Which character – as performed by Ishmael Beah – was your favorite?

    Nurse Esther was the most inspiring character who brought Ishmael back through love.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gina 07-31-15
    Gina 07-31-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Thought provoking, honest and suspenseful true story!"

    The author Ismael Beah is a superb narrator. He tells his story in a very honest compelling way. He is a voice in this world speaking for many other child soldiers. He's also a gifted writer!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrian20 07-26-15
    Adrian20 07-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "amazing"

    this is an amazing book to read to teenagers. the pain and struggle and the power to over come its just amazing

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel 07-25-15
    Joel 07-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "powerful and troubling story"

    This is a powerful and well told story, and is also a hard reality to face. The story has many dimensions, some of familial love and human strnegth however the tale depicts the absolute horror of war. Thus many of the scenes are horribly violent and real and unjust, well beyond the scope of Hollywood . However, I got the impression that despite its emotionally tearing descriptions there is still much more and worse that was not said and left between the gaps. In the end there is a glimmer of a happy ending that allowed the he author to tell his tale of transformations in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David T Hicks 07-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A powerful and moving recounting of a young man's harrowing journey"

    This very moving story is read by the author, which makes it even more powerful. His descriptions of his experiences, his emotions, and his surroundings help bring the reader in and truly get a picture of his life. I would highly recommend it for teens and adults.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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