This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than fifty 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 twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: 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.
Praise for the audio edition of A Long Way Gone: “Actor Dominic Hoffman’s restrained voice, edged with sadness and poignancy, conveys Beah’s difficult emotional state.” – Library Journal “This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare...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 (starred review)
“Beah’s memoir, A Long Way Gone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), is unforgettable testimony that Africa’s children—millions of them dying and orphaned by preventable diseases, hundreds of thousands of them forced into battle—have eyes to see and voices to tell what has happened. And what voices! How is it possible that 26-year-old Beah, a nonnative English speaker, separated from his family at age 12, taught to maim and to kill at 13, can sound such notes of family happiness, of friendship under duress, of quiet horror? No outsider could have written this book, and it’s hard to imagine that many insiders could do so with such acute vision, stark language, and tenderness. It is a heart-rending achievement.” —Melissa Fay Greene, Elle Magazine
“Hideously effective in conveying the essential horror of his experiences.”—Kirkus Reviews