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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ishmael Beah

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,838265957 (4.01)1 / 226
Member:monnibo
Title:A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Authors:Ishmael Beah
Info:Douglas & McIntryre (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:read-not-owned

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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2007)

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Review: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

I liked this book because it was informative and the subject matter is still going on today and needs to be addressed. It might be hard for some to read because it contains descriptive details of mass murder, sexual violence, and child drug use. The story is well written with clarity, details, emotions, and determination to survive. It provides a glimpse into a world that has no rightful place in modern civilization. Certainly, Sierra Leone is not the first place where children have been placed on battlefields and it won’t be the last. Ishmael Beah wants his story told and for this child his story starts the year of 1990 during the Sierra Leone’s civil war when he was only eleven years old.

The story begins with how Ishmael Beah lost his family when his village was destroyed by rebels. Ishmael, a younger brother and a few friends escaped and hid out in the forest, burned out villages, they slept in trees, they stole food, and received help from others who were hiding, and they managed to wander around for months. However, the time came when they were up against a group of rebels and again Ishmael escaped but this time alone…. He now lost his younger brother and had no idea where to go. It wasn’t long before he met up with some other boys he knew. Fleeing once again but eventually they were captured by the army and were converted into brutal soldiers to fight off the rebels. At this time Ishmael didn’t care, he just wanted revenge against the rebels for attacking his village and family.

My review is simple and doesn’t justify how Ishmael Beau tells his story. He’s very honest about what he was feeling and thinking throughout this horror of being a brutal killer and often sent on missions that an adult soldier would not dare attempt. Some of these young boy soldier’s start at the age of eight being trained and being brainwashed to believe it’s an honor and their duty to become a good soldier. Ishmael also went through this training and was one of those brutal soldiers until one day when he just turned fifteen he was chosen by an organization for rehabilitation to try and become a member of society. As he went through this program he struggled and was challenged emotionally to put that boy soldier behind him. A very inviting journey Ishmael Beah tells in his story. He wants people to know what a young boy soldier is or was….
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
In 1993, 12-year-old Ishmael Beah went with his brother and friends to visit family and perform rap music. The civil war in Sierra Leone, up to that point just a story in their village, quickly becomes a part of their lives as they find themselves on the run. This is Ishmael's story growing up as a teenager and being forced to participate in war.

Such as heart-wrenching story is hard to read but so very important. When I read stories halfway across the world that throw out numbers and statistics, it's hard to put a human face on that kind of suffering, but that's exactly what Ishmael's memoir does. I would not be surprised to learn if writing out such a terrifying experience was cathartic for him as well, and I'm amazed by the courage it takes to share such a story with the world. There were moments where the narrative sounded "off" - maybe because he's not a native speaker of English? - though after awhile I just went with the rhythm and stopped noticing. I wouldn't read it through again, and at times it was hard for me to read even 50 pages at a time, but wow. What a powerful story. ( )
  bell7 | May 14, 2016 |
A long way gone, by Ishmael Beah, is a memoir about boy who experience life as a child soldier. Wandering the Sierra Lionne, a land recked by violence and crimes, he and his friends have no place to go but forward. After seeing village after village be invaded and burned, he is taken captive and forced to fight as a soldier. Overtaken by drugs and forced to kill, he realizes he is capable of truly horrific acts. Eventually is released by UNICEF and starts a long fight towards recovery and safety. Now a humanitarian speaker and the winner of many honorable awards, he fights to set other young children from the claws of war and violence. This novel lets readers see how violence, fear, and suspicion can overtake a country and turn even the youngest citizens into unrecognizable creatures.Young Adults of all ages, both female and male, will enjoy reading about Ishmael's journey towards freedom. I highly recommend this novel.
1 vote MadyMcLay | Apr 17, 2016 |
As this book begins, young Ishmael is growing up a relatively carefree young man in Sierra Leone. Civil war changes everything when Ishmael and his friends are forced to flee the oncoming rebel forces. In the coming months the boys encounter rebels and angry villagers who mistake them for young rebels, hunger, fear, and great sadness. Eventually he becomes a government soldier and the results are chilling. Mr. Beah is quite blunt about the violence but never overly graphic. This young man's journey through hell, the rehabilitation, and eventually to the U.S. are incredible. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
As this book begins, young Ishmael is growing up a relatively carefree young man in Sierra Leone. Civil war changes everything when Ishmael and his friends are forced to flee the oncoming rebel forces. In the coming months the boys encounter rebels and angry villagers who mistake them for young rebels, hunger, fear, and great sadness. Eventually he becomes a government soldier and the results are chilling. Mr. Beah is quite blunt about the violence but never overly graphic. This young man's journey through hell, the rehabilitation, and eventually to the U.S. are incredible. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
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Dedication
To the memories of Nya Nje, Nya Keke, Nya Ndig-ge isa, and Kaynya. Your spririts and presence within me give me strength to carry on,

to all the children of Sierra Leone who were robbed of their childhoods,

and to the memory of Walter (Wally) Scheuer for his generous and compassionate heart and for teaching me the etiquette of being a gentleman
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My high school friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Disturbing, but powerful book that deals with the horrible effects of violence and desperation. The author was lucky to be chosen to be "rehabilitated", but so many others were not. It actually seems like a miracle that he could be rehabilitated- his mentors showed incredible persistence in the face of extreme resistance. The memoir also demonstrates the power of the group to influence the behavior of the individual. It staggers the mind to try to grasp how much effort it would take to rehabilitate all the violent members of the world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374531269, Paperback)

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.

"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.'
'Cool.'
I smile a little.
'You should tell us about it sometime.'
'Yes, sometime.'"

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A human rights activist offers a firsthand account of war from the perspective of a former child soldier, detailing the violent civil war that wracked his native Sierra Leone and the government forces that transformed a gentle young boy into a killer as a member of the army.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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