A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael BeahA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

byIshmael Beah

Paperback | August 5, 2008

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A Globe and Mail Best 100 Books of the Year, New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of the Year, and Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year.

It is estimated that in the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide, there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now in his mid-twenties, tells how, at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels in his homeland of Sierra Leone and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence and war. 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.

Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, in 1980. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Division Advisory Committee and h...
Title:A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy SoldierFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 8.5 × 0.61 inPublished:August 5, 2008Publisher:Douglas And McIntyre (2013) Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:155365398X

ISBN - 13:9781553653981

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tragically Touching I really enjoyed this book. I read this book during the summer of grade eight. I'm glad I read this book at such a young age because I was really able to relate to Beah. When Beah recounts his story, he is about ten years old. Halfway into this book, we see the changes he experiences, shaped by a civil war in his country. Reading this book, it is quite hard to believe that this was an autobiography -- a true story. The series of events he recounts is very surreal. Thinking about the life I live today, in a developed country, it was an emotional adventure reading this book through the eyes of a child, being forced into war. This true story touched my heart and makes me realise even more, just how lucky I am to living the life I live in now. I recommend this book to everyone. Especially to all you naive souls. This book will definitely open up your mind and help you understand the unfortunate side of the, world happening outside of a country full of liberty. P.S - This is not the ordinary, boring auto-biography the average Joe would think it to be. This book was a heck of a page turner!
Date published: 2012-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Emotional Ishmael Beah's childhood (and life for that matter) was drastically different from the average. Being able to descriptively re-call what has happened shows such courage and resiliency. At times, I forgot that I was reading about children soldiers. The things they went through was absolutely horrible. No person, let alone a child, should have to live in such powerlessness and fear.
Date published: 2012-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I´ve read! One of the best books I´ve read so far! A true and tragic story about a boy, born in Sierra Leone, whose childhood ended abruptly as the civil war reached his home. He lost his childhood, livelihood, family and friends...just all he once had. Since running away and surviving in the bush got difficult for a young boy, it´s only understandable that he found safety in the army, who provided shelter and food. All of a sudden he found himself being a boy soldier taking drugs, killing people, because that´s what he was told to do. After years on the front, he was rescued to experience rehabilitation and education which finally made him end up living in New York City. The end of the book seemed too sudden for me first, because it doesn´t tell how Beah´s life goes on in New York. But this way it made me research the internet for Beah, boy soldiers and children in war...what made me learn even more about it. I´ve seen this book in the shelf so many times, read the back of it all so often, but often chose for another one, because reading about a child experiencing war with all it´s violence, madness and cruelty seemed alienating to me. But it also made me realize how little I knew about war and boy soldiers, and I was curious to learn more. So who else in the world could tell a boy soldier´s story more authentic than a former boy soldier itself. I started reading and soon found myself caught in the awful world of Ishmael Beah and could barely stop until the last page. Beah is not reserved talking about the cruelty or taking drugs, he just tells it the way he experienced war...honest and frankly. The way he tells the story of the long way he had gone, the reader can almost picture the area, feeling like always running a step behind him, hiding, watching what happens. Sometimes the reader want´s to forget that it´s a child telling this awful story, because nobody would want a child to face all this violence and we can´t imagine or believe a child to experience war (we all know it happens, though) and act like an adult that young age only to survive. But all so often Ishmael Beah´s childlike thoughts remind us of his young age, in which his childhood stopped so abruptly. This book really opened my eyes and heart and gave me a better understanding of children suffering from war, and war in general. I truly respect Ishmael Beah for sharing his story with the world so frankly. I will certainly recommend this book, while I believe the world needs to read it, because sometimes the Bad can change to the Good...
Date published: 2011-05-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah is both tragic and inspiring in telling the life story of a child soldier in war torn Sierra Leone. At Just thirteen years old, Ishmael Beah’s life took a shattering turn from happy village life to being orphaned and forced to commit terrible atrocities under the command of army forces. Through his memoir, Ishmael manages to bring understanding to a situation that most would not even be able to fathom let alone understand. While the situations the book discusses are disturbing, the description of these horrors through the eyes of a teenage boy brings a heartbreaking tone to the book that allows you to consider how ones instinct to survive can push you to new limits. He was rescued by UNISEF at the age of sixteen but that did not bring an end to the suffering, as he went on to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. With so many areas of the world currently in turmoil, this book is an important read for many in the western world who are so far removed from what is taking place throughout the world and in particular, volatile regions of Africa.
Date published: 2011-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! 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.
Date published: 2010-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great! This book really opened my eyes to conflicts around the world, particularly in Africa. It is an amazing novel which tells the horrific tale of a young boy named Ishmael Beah who's trying desperately to run from the war, the rebels, the rotting bodies, and the smell of burning flesh. He loses his family, friends, everything he'd taken for granted in his life. He's so desperate for food, water, clean clothes, or anyone at all, that he joins the rebels. He is taught to run blindly through every village, shooting at everything in his path, and to set fire to all the houses. They tell him that he's getting revenge on the world for all of the hurt he, his family, and his friends have been put through all of their lives. Every time he hears the shrilling scream of a wounded civilian, he feels like he's done good. Finally, UNICEF members take him and his weapons to a rehabilitation center. His journey to rehabilitation is a long, tough one. But soon, he is representing his country in front of other representatives from around the world. He begins a new, peaceful life, leaving his child soldier past behind him.
Date published: 2010-06-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An excellent Memoir 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.
Date published: 2010-04-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Well Told Story This was not an easy book to read, but it was an important story to hear. As others have stated, there is some controversy over the veracity of Beah's account from newspaper, "The Australian". From doing a bit of research, it seems that there is no "smoking gun" saying that his accounts were a lie (everything is hearsay). The story is so awful, I think a lot of us WANT to believe that it could never of happened on this earth. So, assuming that everything was true, I found the story heart-wrenching. Being a teenager is so difficult - and to layer drugs and violence on top of it, seems unbearable. Since we are about the same age, his music references (such as Heavy D and the Boyz) made me remember what I was doing at the time, and how much simpler my life was. Family (relatively) in tact. A stable political situation. Nothing to worry about other than school and friends. This book reminds us all that these are gifts. The book was set well - I felt like I was living in a world of chiefs, villages and wild animals. He was honest about his relationship with drugs and violence, and did not get overly moralistic about it. One thing I wish the book had more of was some insight into the "why". I would have liked to understand how he went from a boy soldier to a reformed one. It seemed like the switch at the UNICEF centre was completely binary, and from what I understand of the human heart, things don't play out like that. It is also a bit of a Cinderella story at the end, and I wish he discussed if there were any aftershock effects of living the life he did for so many years - such as if the drugs had long-term effects. Or, if he was numb to violence or super-sensitive based on how he lived. Or if he missed his homeland or despised it. Overall, I would recommend this book. I think in the Western world we like to place war in the past or somewhere far away. A book like this reminds us of all of the awful things that war brings... to people that don't deserve to be forgotten.
Date published: 2010-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Biography! This is an amazing book. I would definately recommend reading it to anyone. Its hard to even fathom what Ishmael went thru in his childhood at such a young age and recover and lived to tell his tale. After reading this book, you realize how much you take for granted. This is one of the best books I have read so far.
Date published: 2009-07-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The authenticity of this account may be in doubt... There are suggestions by some researchers that the account's authenticity may be in doubt. If so, continued independent research is highly recommended, lest the reading public coninues to be misled and the author continues to enjoy the rewards of this endeavor.
Date published: 2008-10-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Boy Soldier A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a book written by Ishmael Beah in 2007 about his experiences as a boy soldier. It is one of the best nonfiction books I have read so far this year. It truly takes you into the life of a child soldier. The credibility of this book is up for debate- some details are reportedly a little off in terms of facts and dates and verification. But nonetheless, although I didn't believe that the book was 100% accurate, I do believe that it is bringing to light a very important issues. There are also some obvious explanations for any inaccuracies- once you finish the book I'm sure you will see for yourself. This account is truly horrific, and will open your eyes and your heart.
Date published: 2008-09-15