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A Long Way Gone: The True Story Of A Child Soldier

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  102,626 Ratings  ·  8,176 Reviews
A first-person account, told by a 25-year-old veteran of the Sierra Leone conflict, this title is a heartbreaking, honest and important memoir about the horrors of war and the lost innocence of the youthful combatants."
Paperback, 229 pages
Published 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published June 29th 2007)
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Diane Armstrong You read the book, first, making notes about your observations about
the book's different aspects...story, characters, language, author if relevant,…more
You read the book, first, making notes about your observations about
the book's different aspects...story, characters, language, author if relevant, point of the book, what you learned from the book if it gave a lesson(s) to you.

Then you write a small essay about those feaatures and your evaluation of their quality for its audience.

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Leah M. I don't think that they do 100%. But when there is so little left, you do what you can and you expectations and standards become lower.
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Community Reviews

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Feb 09, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will never. Never. Complain about my childhood again.

Okay, that's not true. I will. But when I let out a sad sigh of remorse that I didn't figure out exactly why I really wanted to be friends with that one guy in band in high school until it was way too late to do anything about it, I will at least think, "At least I wasn't killing people and snorting gunpowder."

Like most of you reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about what was happening in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. I didn't know there w
Jennifer (aka EM)
I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry for what I am about to do. It seems unbelievably curmudgeonly of me to judge this book harshly given its subject matter. But I can't let the deep empathy I feel for this former Sierra Leonean child soldier cloud my judgement of his memoir. I give him five stars - more! - for his courage, his honesty and the remarkable work he is doing to shed light on the life of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and elsewhere; to raise consciousness and motivate political action to put ...more
Sep 10, 2013 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear Ms. Naomi Campbell,

I have always been an ardent aficionado of your work; from your heydays sashaying the YSL runaways along with Linda Evangelista to crooning in George Michael’s Freedom video. Your numerous sexual trysts with celebrated oligarchs and other questionable chaps were highly fascinating although not marvelous. But lately, you seem to forego your sadistic tantrums and suffer from a transient global amnesia. Is it due to those numerous chalky dust lines running through your nasal
Nov 05, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in 2007 when this book was first released. It was a year when local High School kids in our area were assigned to read this book. Then later in the year --Ishmael came to speak at our local state University to a room of more than 1,000 people.

It was a powerful night!

Ismael Beach was 26 years old when this book came out. He tells his story of becoming a child soldier in Sierra Leone and of his later

Heartbreaking -(horrors) - children in war..fighting, killing, d
Muhammed Hebala
Mar 07, 2014 Muhammed Hebala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
كتاب جميل جدا
و ذكريات صعبة جدا جدا جدا
و عمل إنساني فوق الوصف
أنا فعلا مش متخيل ازاي ممكن إنسان يمر بكل الأحداث دي و يفضل على إنسانيته
و كمان متخيل كمية الألم و هوه ماسك القلم و بيفتكر اللي مر بيه و يعيشه من تاني و يكتبه
ازاي الصراع من أجل البقاء ممكن يحولك لحيوان ضاري مفترس, و إزاي ينسيك آدميتك, وازاي شهوة السلطة بتعمي لدرجة انهم يجندوا أطفال في حرب أهلية

الكتاب رائع و مؤثر جدا جدا, إشمائيل كتب بصدق و سحر توفيق ترجمت بأجمل أسلوب , فعلا هيه دي الترجمة

الكتاب موجع لكنه مهم إنك تقراه و تعرف الدنيا حوالي
Feb 02, 2008 steven rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nandakishore Varma
Nov 08, 2015 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This is a very important book, though not an easy one to read. Ishmael's style leaves a lot to be desired, and he is especially weak, I feel, when he tries to be philosophical. But he makes up for that with the descriptions of war, to the depravity which human beings can descend to. The fact that he does this with a child's candour, unemotionally, makes it even more disturbing.

Children can be easily moulded. And cruelty comes easily to children, because they do not think of it as "cruel" in the
Bethany Andrews
The long and the short of things is that this book is phenomonal. Incredible. Horrifying. Beautiful. It's written in a very straightforward manner; its rather simple and in most places lacks any type of real depth. However, the story that those words are telling is one that I will never forget.

The story is set in Sierra Leone in the early 1990's. The author, Ishmael, is just a young boy of twelve when his village is attacked by rebel troops. Ishmael finds himself orphaned and on the run in a war

قصة مؤلمة جدا...لم اقرأ عن السيراليون قبل ذلك...

اتفرجت علي فيلم
Blood diamond
وشوفت ازاي المتمردين بيجندوا الاطفال ويتم تحويل طفل برئ يخاف كل شئ الي قاتل محترف

وايضا فيلم
Lord of war
الذي اوضح ان تجارة السلاح تساهم او السبب الرئيسي وراء تلك المذابح التي تتم في افريقيا..

فذلك الكتاب يحكي
قصة حياة اشمائيل الطفل الذي فقد عائلته واخذ يهرب خائفا ومرعوبا من المتمردين ، الذين تمردوا علي فساد الحكومة فقاموا بأعمال اسوأ مليون مرة من الحكومة

اعمال سرقة وقتل واغتصاب وحرق احياء وتمثيل بالجثث وقطع رؤس وتجنيد الاطف
Aug 20, 2007 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to broaden their cultural horizons
Gut-wrenching and virtually unbelievable to a modern, Western-minded suburban sheltered life, this compelling first hand account of contemporary struggle and tragedy landed like a thud in my soul. I read the book in about three days, and unfortunately it tempered my view of the people around me, wondering what atrocities they were capable of committing, what sort of terror these faces or even my own hands could carry out under the right circumstances. In the end, though, it is a tale of individu ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Lain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an over-privileged white American, it can be tough to even begin to fathom the struggles and atrocities that Africans face. When I started reading this book, I wondered if the stories Ishmael Beah would tell would be so horrific that I couldn't continue to read, much less comprehend, them.

However, Meah tells his tale with a blend of humor, distance, and insight that took me right to the edge. Any further, and I think I would have shut down. Any less far, and I believe I wouldn't have gotten
Oct 25, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen."

This is an amazing memoir about a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In 1993, when Ishmael was 12, rebels attacked his village and he fled, never to see his parents again. After weeks of walking and scrounging for food, he was picked up by the government military, given an AK-47 and was trained how to fight. The boys were given drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, and sent into battle. Ishmael spent years fighting
Sarah Arlen
Aug 13, 2007 Sarah Arlen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
This is one of those uber-rare books that everyone in the world should be required to read. If I can cry while reading it on a train full of strangers and feel lifted up at the end of its conclusion, than I think it's touching in all the best ways. It is one of the most sincere books I've ever read in my life and contains chronicling of a type of human experience that I've never seen and find too easy to ignore, that of the child in a war state on the front lines. For those of you who love stori ...more
إبراهيم   عادل
Mar 25, 2013 إبراهيم عادل rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to إبراهيم by: Arwa
هذا الكتاب/المذكرات .. يستحيل في ظني ألا تتعاطف معه ..
هنا شهادة صادقة وموحية وأليمة لأحداثٍ عاشها كاتبها يومًا بيوم، واستطاع ببراعة فائقة أن يصفها ويعرضها بتفاصيلها القاسية المؤلمة، ويبدو لي أن الكاتب تمرَّن كثيرًا على الكتابة، أو هو ـ على الأقل ـ موهوبٌ بالفكرة، لأنه استطاع أن يعرض لحياته مع كل هذا الألم بهاذ التشويق، وعرض لحظات ومشاهد حيَّة كانت بالغة العذوبة والبساطة والتأثير معًا ..
كلًَّما قرأت فصلاً من الكتاب أو جزءًا منه كنت أعود إلى صورة الغلاف وأتخيَّل ذلك الطفل المسكين الذي قادته ظر
Mar 03, 2008 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking. I can't believe people have life experiences like Ishmael Beah. Ishmael, a 27 year-old refugee from Sierra Leone now living in New York City, left his home with his brother and some friends to practice a new rap routine in a neighboring village. He was twelve years old. He never saw his home or his parents again. Rebel forces attacked his village, killing most, and causing the rest to flee.

Without a home to return to, he and his peers managed to spend several months wandering from
Aug 18, 2007 Kristine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book- short, simple, he describes his experience as a child soldier. Pretty amazing, bc you figure not that many of those child soldiers have the opportunity or inkling to write about it. I do wish the book had a clearer timeline and sense of the history and politics surrounding his personal experience in the conflict, but hey- the guy is not a historian, so I am not gonna bitch about that.

The topic of the Sierra Leone conflict though is FASCINATING, not to mention disgusting when you see w
Mar 01, 2008 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got around to reading the highly lauded A Long Way Gone.

“Africa breaks your heart.” That’s what David Denby of The New Yorker concluded at the very beginning of his review for “Blood Diamond,” drawing on the then recent releases of “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Constant Gardener,” “And The Last King of Scotland.”

I concur, having read Ishmael Beah’s memoir relatively close on the heels of Dave Eggers’ What is the What and Beasts of No Nation. I suppose I could complete the cycle with This Voice
Walid Elalfy
Nov 09, 2011 Walid Elalfy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
في كل مرة يأتي أناس إلينا وهم عازمون على قتلنا كنت أغلق عيني وأنتظر الموت. ورغم أني مازلت حياً، أشعر في كل مرة أسلم فيها للموت وكأن جزءاً مني يموت وسرعان ما سوف اموت تماما وكل ما سوف يبقى هو جسدى الفارغ يسير معكم . سوف يكون اكثرا هدوءا منى ”

ان تكون جلاد وضحيه فى نفس الوقت . انا تحارب من اجل كل شىء ومن اجل لا شىء , ان تنتزع الادميه والبراءه من الاطفال ويتحولوا الى قتله يتسابقون من فيهم الاسرع فى قطاع الرقاب ومن يقتل بطريقه اكثرا ايلاما . ان تحمل اشجار الغابه جميعها نقاط دماء لتظل شاهده طوال العمر
Sep 07, 2015 Tania rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, audio
I listened to this on audio, and I adored the author's accent. I struggled to really emphathize with Ishmael for the first half of the book as the horrors of what was happening with him was so far removed from what I know. I can't even imagine children having to deal with these situations - as a victim, and as a perpetrator. The section that dealt with the rehabilitation of the child soldiers were my favorite section in the book. I admire the people who have the heart and the guts to do these am ...more
Salsabil Emam
Apr 28, 2014 Salsabil Emam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب يجذبك من أول صفحة لآخر صفحة .. لقد صحبني الكاتب إشمائيل بيه معه في رحلته الشاقة الطويلة .. هذه الرحلة التي لن تملك سوى أن تدمع عيناك معه في بعض صفحاتها .. و بدلاً عنه في البعض الآخر !!! رحلة تأخذك لجمال طبيعة أفريقيا .. تحديداً هنا في سيراليون .. جمال أحراشها .. ونقاء أهلها .. الترابط المجتمعي المفقود في المدن الضخمة .. ثم تفاجئ معه ببدئ هجوم المتمردين و بدء الحرب .. ستُفاجئ و كأنك جزء من الحكاية في رحلة شاقة على النفس .. هذه الحرب التي تبدأ فجأة في عصر من الظلم الذي لم يكن يتصور أن يُقلب ...more
Toai Trinh
Dec 20, 2013 Toai Trinh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone tells the story of himself, a young teen in the midst of political upheaval, where rebels everywhere are killing many of the innocent civilians of Africa. The book is set in Sierra Leone, where many African rebels were causing chaos at every town they passed by. Hoping to survive and maybe reunite with his family, Ishmael runs around Sierra Leone, where rebels hope to recruit young Africans like Ishmael himself. Ishmael wanders around Sierra Leone, examining the p ...more
Chelsea Cripps
May 27, 2007 Chelsea Cripps rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was one of the more incredible books I've ever read. The book is the true story of the author's life in Sierra-Leone, and the story of many other children swept up in the war there. When the author is 12-years-old his village is destroyed and his family lost. He wanders for years, sometimes with groups of other boys, sometimes alone, trying to avoid the rebels and to find a safe place to exist. Eventually swept into the war, hopped up on drugs and handed guns, the boys find themselves soldier ...more
محمد على عطية
أفضل تعليق يمكن كتابته عن هذا الكتاب هو تعليق أختي سلسبيل إمام هنا

و ما يمكن أن أزيده هو أن أقول أن هذا الكتاب هو قصة حقيقية مؤثرة عن الصراع في بلدٍ لا يدري أكثرنا أن حوالي 70% منه يدين بالإسلام, لكن ستعرف الكثير خلال قراءتك للكتاب عن طبيعة الدين الذي يختلط بالتراث الشعبي و الأديان القديمة, كما ستتعرف على نمط العلاقة التراحمي في هذا الجزء من القارة السوداء و بالأخص في القرى

ربما يكون من الجميل أن تشاهد فيلم Blood Diamond
قبل أن تطالع الكتاب, و أن تعلم أن ترا
Julia Graf
Mar 15, 2012 Julia Graf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I just stayed up way late into the night to finish this book. Ishmael Beah, my hat's off to you. His experiences as a child affected by and running from war, and then becoming a child soldier in Sierra Leone, and ultimately escaping these horrors is mind boggling. What absolutely astounds me is what happened to him afterwards. I went to his website to find out more about him, and it turns out he got a BA degree in Political Science from a college in the United States, wrote this book himself wit ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
In the 1990s Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa, found itself sinking into a very bloody internal war between corrupt government soldiers and armed rebels. It lasted at least ten years, and while now the country is stable and has a booming tourism industry, during the war countless innocent civilians were slaughtered and hundreds of boys were recruited by both sides.

Ishmael is twelve when the rebels arrive at his small mining town in the south-west, not so far from the ocean. He is wit
Mar 31, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, military
A raw, remarkable, jaw dropping, profoundly depressing, head-spinning, eye-opening story. Worth reading.

Reading this book is a wonderful reminder of just how crazy and chaotic and unstable many places on the planet remain. I found the historical chronology - after the author's story concluded - immensely helpful. At the same time, one of the most unnerving and disorienting aspects of the book was how much fighting was going on, and - other than survival - how little information there was as to w
Andrea Poulain

Quiero contarles algo sobre Sierra Leona. La mayoría habrá oído del país porque es un país africano en donde hubo una guerra muy sangrienta en donde peleaban niños armados con AK-47s hasta arriba de drogas, comandados por gente que les decía que era la única manera de vengar a sus familias o a sus muertos. O la mayoría sabrá que existe un país que se llama Sierra Leona porque allí hay diamantes. O ni eso. La verdad es que solemos englobar a Africa como un
Amy (amyb2332)
I have a hard time rating memoirs because I feel like I can't possible "love" something that is clearly such a painful experience from someone else's past. So me giving this three stars doesn't mean I didn't like it, I truly did. It is a shocking and sad story and I feel like I have learned a lot from reading it.

I would have liked to see a bit more explanation towards what the conflict in Sierra Leone was about. I also would have liked to more about the author's life after the war.

The whole book
Feb 01, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing that this young man is alive and able to write about his life in war torn Sierra Leone. Like any war zone, Sierra Leone is the embodiment of chaos. War makes makes living second to second a random equation. The main character sees men, women, and children die horrible deaths before he's even 14 years old-way more than any hardcore adult soldier. He paints a very clear picture of a country destabilizing and it's frightening.

A first part of the book is pretty much about he and his fri
This is the account of Ishmael Beah's childhood during the civil war in Siera Leone, Africa. It has great balance in that the storytelling is done in such a way that the reader doesn't become so bogged down in the trauma to not be able to enjoy the book. The interweaving of the good and bad helps the reader to be able to digest the story of a mostly lost childhood.
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Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone 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. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science.

He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Cou
More about Ishmael Beah...

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