A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

by Ishmael Beah | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0374105235 Global Overview for this book
Registered by xallroyx of Huntington Beach, California USA on 4/19/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers:
Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT | Bol.com
4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by xallroyx from Huntington Beach, California USA on Thursday, April 19, 2007
This gripping story by a children's-rights advocate recounts his experiences as a boy growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, during one of the most brutal and violent civil wars in recent history. Beah, a boy equally thrilled by causing mischief as by memorizing passages from Shakespeare and dance moves from hip-hop videos, was a typical precocious 12-year-old. But rebel forces destroyed his childhood innocence when they hit his village, driving him to leave his home and travel the arid deserts and jungles of Africa. After several months of struggle, he was recruited by the national army, made a full soldier and learned to shoot an AK-47, and hated everyone who came up against the rebels. The first two thirds of his memoir are frightening: how easy it is for a normal boy to transform into someone as addicted to killing as he is to the cocaine that the army makes readily available. But an abrupt change occurred a few years later when agents from the United Nations pulled him out of the army and placed him in a rehabilitation center. Anger and hate slowly faded away, and readers see the first glimmers of Beah's work as an advocate. Told in a conversational, accessible style, this powerful record of war ends as a beacon to all teens experiencing violence around them by showing them that there are other ways to survive than by adding to the chaos.

Journal Entry 2 by xallroyx from Huntington Beach, California USA on Monday, June 11, 2007
This was a great read! Ishmael's tale is heartbreaking. I saw "Blood Diamond" recently so I could picture the countryside and how the boys were treated. I couldn't imagine anything like that happeneing here. The boys showed so much strength by walking/running to flee the war. When they get caught up in it, it is so sad. I'm glad Ishmael was given a chance to get out that gave him the contacts to leave for good when the fighting reaches Freetown and his uncle is killed. It kind of ends abruptly, but the history at the end helps.

Journal Entry 3 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, July 03, 2007
received today. I 'won'this in the NF swap

Journal Entry 4 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Thursday, February 04, 2010
This book is with me!

Journal Entry 5 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Saturday, March 06, 2010
On what seemed like a normal trip with his friends outside his home village of Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone, the rebels come into his village and start killing anything that moves. When he thinks it is safe, Ishmael and his friends head back to his Mattru Jong to search for the families but find only bodies littering the street. When they can't find their families, the group of boys search for food from nearby villages. They quickly learn that groups of boys are looked upon suspiciously because that's what the rebel forces travel as.

As they travel village to village, they receive help from unlikely sources and see more violence and death than any child should. Eventually soldiers bring the remaining boys into a village and promise them safety. Ishmael watches these soldiers clean their guns, take drugs, and watch Rambo before going out to kill rebels. When the soldiers lose too many men, they pose an ultimatum to the village. Either join us and fight or leave the village. At the age of 13, Ishmael becomes a soldier.

The story follows Ishmael as he lives the nightmare of war and then his rehabilitation. Ishmael's story is sad but it draws you in and holds your attention for the entire duration.

The majority of the book was explaining Ishmael's journey before he became a soldier. I was interested in learning about how he was rehabilitated but found that not enough of the novel focused on this. The ending left me hanging a bit too. Though it did make me look up Ishmael online.

Despite the fact that the book didn't go into as much detail as I would have liked, I couldn't put it down. I was concerned for Ishmael's well being and hoped that him and his family would be ok. It's great to see that Ishmael is trying to help other kids who have gone through what he has and bring this story to the world.

Journal Entry 6 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Sunday, March 07, 2010
This book is with me :)

Journal Entry 7 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Ishmael is a normal 12 year old boy getting into mischief and learning dances moves to hip hop music. When he travels to a near-by village for a dance competition, the rebels hit his home town. What follows is an extraordinary journey. The boys return home after a harrowing trip to find nothing left and no signs of their parents. They, then start a journey to try and find them.

The boys are looked on very suspiciously as that is how the rebels travel and the rebels destroy everything in their path. It is very hard to find a roof over their heads let alone something to eat. For months Ishmael travels having many close calls with the rebels and eventually losing his brother and other comrades. He ends up in a village controlled by the army and giving the inhabitants a small measure of security.

After losing too many militia to the rebels the army tells the villagers to either join them or leave. Ishamel joins and is soon caught up in the anger and violence of the army and the drugs the army provides to deaden what the boys are required to do.

One day the UN comes to the village and seems to buy some of the boy soldiers. They take them back to Freetown to a compound for rehabilitation. It is a long and drawn out procedure with much patience shown by the UN staff. Ishmael, eventually becomes a human rights advocate for children.

This book was very illuminating. Ishmael has had to endure experiences no child should even come close to. I, too, found the ending abrupt and wished the story had been extended a bit. This is such a powerful story of how one can turn hate and violence into something positive.

Journal Entry 8 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Sunday, March 28, 2010
Mailed today to Ri from the non-genre swap

Journal Entry 9 by Ri from Cincinnati, Ohio USA on Tuesday, April 13, 2010
This arrived while I was in Columbus so just getting to journaling it now. Thanks for sending this on Hoser! It has been on my wishlist!

Journal Entry 10 by Ri at Cincinnati, Ohio USA on Sunday, June 27, 2010
This was an extremely eye opening memoir. It says a lot about the fragility and resiliency of youth. It was quite difficult to read in parts, surely. What kept me going was knowing that Ismael lived to tell the story. After reading this, it is so much easier to understand how these young children are made into soldiers. I hugged my own kids extra tight and said a prayer for all the youth in the world who were not able to be hugged by their own families.

ETA: My mom read this one after me and simply loved it. Powerful read. I then passed it on to my friend Wildfruitwarm who was visiting from Canada.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.