My new friends have begun to suspect I haven’t 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, 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.
“Everyone in the world should read this book.”
– The Washington Post
“A breathtaking and unself-pitying account of how a gentle spirit survives a childhood from which all the innocence has suddenly been sucked out. It’s a truly riveting memoir.”
“Arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature.”
– Vanity Fair
“Beah is a gifted writer…Read his memoir and you will be haunted…It’s a high price to pay, but it’s worth it.”
“Deeply moving, even uplifting…”
– People (Critic’s choice, four stars)
“This war memoir haunts the heart long after the eyes have finished the final page.”
– Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“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 and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide.”
– Publishers Weekly