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
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.
I like that it was his story; it added to the narrative knowing it was his experiences he was telling you about.
It did get under my skin and I had a hard time not thinking about it when I was away.
Sad yet hopeful.
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.
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.
I love to create, build, design, and learn.
A Long Way Gone is among the top 20 Audiobooks I've heard.
Pertaining to the corrupt use of power and the effects of agency I would say Killing Pablo was another captivating book describing evil.
Nurse Esther was the most inspiring character who brought Ishmael back through love.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
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.
The voice of the author brought his story to life, the grief and sorrow in his soul showed through his voice as he retold the story of his childhood and the loss of his friends and family.
This memoir was truly transcending. I've recommended it to everyone I know. it's amazing how people walk such different paths in this life. his narration was so prefect for this story. I really can't explain how someone could survive such horror and continue living.
Initially I was captivated and moved by Ishmael's story, but at some point I started to realize that some of the descriptions may be self-serving and hyperbolic. When I did a Google search, I found that there was ample evidence of major factual flaws in the book. If Ishmael presented his book as a work of fiction based on personal experiences, it would have been a powerful work. His dishonesty in presenting it as entirely factual, takes away all merit from the book
This book provides evidence as to why we're even on this site: the power of story telling. Story telling has the power of cleansing, restoring, repatriating and healing and giving hope when seemingly none is there. I believe the author is continuing to heal. The book, however, tugs at the scars that we all have and through these incursions, makes the scarring more knotted, complex and hopefully stronger as we draw strength from one another. Story telling helps Ishmael in his childhood, through the war, through his soldiering and into and through his "repatriation". His retriggering into and our of trauma. There are instances of fluctuation from innocent child to deep (in)humanity and back again. Memorably, when asked to explain rap music, he describes it as PARABLES that the white man can understand. I will put this book on my therapeutic bookshelf as it can help many of my patients with PTSD that has originated in childhood and watch the journey unfold. Refreshingly, it's applicability is multicultural. The audiobook read by the author lends and additional layer of connection and realism. Thank you Ishmael for sharing with us your stories for both your benefit and especially ours.
This deeply harrowing and personal book is made all the more emotional by the fact it is read by the author. The horrific nature of the experiences are poignant and unavoidable.
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