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In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of…

In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa

by Daniel Bergner

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What do a helicopter pilot, a disabled father, an American missionary family, and young auto mechanic all have in common? They are all characters in the land of magic soldiers, Daniel Bergner's harrowing tale about the recent history of Sierra Leone.

At the beginning of the 20th Century Lord Frederick Lugard wrote "The African knows no peace," and although it's a cliche to reference Conrad's Heart of Darkness when talking of equatorial Africa, Sierra Leone is one messed-up failed state and all theses characters certainly know no peace. The helicopter pilot is a mercenary who strafes guerrillas in a helicopter gunship; the disabled father had both his hands chopped off by rebels, the American missionary family flee their mission as violent anarchy spreads thought the countryside like a fast-moving virus, and the auto mechanic is a former child soldier and occasional cannibal.

Competently told, if not lyrical, Bergner's chilling tale documents what life is like when a society completely breaks down - think Cormac MacCarthy's "The Road" and add jungle. Reading it you can't help but wonder if this country and these people are beyond redemption, but Berger describes how stubborn the faintest glimmer of humanity can be when immersed in that aforementioned stygian heart of darkness.
1 vote madcatnip72 | Sep 23, 2009 |
added by doomjesse | editKirkus (Jul 15, 2003)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031242292X, Paperback)

An Los Angeles Times Best Book 2003

In Sierra Leone, rampaging soldiers have made a custom of hacking off the hands of their victims, then letting them live as the ultimate emblem of terror. The country is so desperate that, forty years after independence, its people long to be recolonized.

In this book, the acclaimed author of novelist and journalist follows a set of Western would-be saviors and a set of Sierra Leoneans, who take us into a land of beauty, horror, resilience and redemption. From mercenaries to missionaries, child soldiers to parent fugitives, Bergner tells this racially charged story with sensitivity and precision, creating an unforgettable work of literary reportage.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In the Land of Magic Soldiers tells the stories of a group of native Sierra Leoneans: a father who rescues his daughter from rape, loses his hands as punishment, and then begins to rebuild his life; a child soldier (and sometime cannibal) and the priest who tries to help him; and a highly Westernized medical student with an immunity to bullets and a cure for HIV. Interwoven with their stories are those of the would-be saviors: a family of American missionaries who make their home in a tiny village as the war overruns them; a mercenary helicopter gunship pilot who thrives on the fighting he tries to end; and the army of Great Britain, committed to intensive intervention in a country that is so anarchic and desperate that, forty years after independence, its people long to be recolonized."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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