Bill's Reviews > A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
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Feb 01, 08

Read in November, 2007

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 friends staying one step head of the war. They, like most kids in the region, are separated from their families. They have run-ins with violence but are able to side step it for the most part. They are constantly on the run from government troops and RUF soldiers at the same time.
Once entangled in the war they all end up on the government side of the war. They make the kids go on raids, and scouting missions high on "bang bang"; a mixture of coke and gun powder. Field leaders get them high, make them stay up all night and do three day recon missions with each soldier wracking up a body count of at least 10-15 RUF soldiers. They have no sense of time and as humanity leaves the killing becomes easier and the years go by- it's like a violent casino. I'm a big military book fan and the differences in these soldiers are apparent as they have no formal training, discipline and are drug addicts. Without discipline the soldier is an animal whose purpose is to kill. Can you imagine gangs of kids jacked up on coke on killing and torture sprees? It makes City of God look like Sesame Street. Thank god for UNISEF as they were responsible for him rehabed and getting him out of the country to speak about his experience.

I couldn't begin to describe this book enough as it's filled with so many random battles, chases and other near death experiences. Ismael Beah is very clear and straight forward with his experience but at the same time remorseful about his role in the conflict. It's evident that this experience will scar him but at the same time it's given him tools to love and trust again.
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message 1: by Tai (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tai This book is so heart broken a child war solider,nothing good ever comes out of being a child soldier. Ishmeal trained to kill and fight the rebels of the war. He saw first hand children younger then him getting shot and killed because their not strong to fight, he had his childhood taken away lost his family ,he lost everything. He paints a horrible picture of his eveyday life after his village was attacked and the war took him ,friends, and his other brother his only family he still knows. He has never seen his parents since the day his village was attacked by the rebels and later on when he became thirteen the sierra lone goverment army picked him up. I wonder how he survived this horrific ordeal of losing his family and becaming a child solider learning how to become a killer. I just dont understand how you could eight and nine year boys on the line to fight mostly grown men and expect them not to get killed first. He slowly got so use to killing that he lead small raids and attack small villages to get food drinks and shelter. i could never walk in his shoes from being once this sweet gentle boy who loved to go to school and hang out with his family and friends to a killing and touring machine. he was sneaky and always wanting to be like Rambo who fought in a war and was very bold and sneaky with everything he did. I just happy he made out safe and alive even though psychology he was still in the war he was able to adjust and finish his schooling in the USA. i agree there is no book that can be filled with battles, wandering ,running and chases from thhe rebels with vivid descritions and almost feeling like your right there in the story with them. Ismael is one of the child soilders to make it out alive and start his life over in New york city when he turned sixteen.


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