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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  159,027 ratings  ·  10,570 reviews
The devastating story of war through the eyes of a child soldier. Beah tells 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 became a soldier.

My new friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life.
“Why did you leave Sierra Le
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Sarah Crichton Books
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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, po…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.

Cole D Sorry for your missgidence but i found out how thanks everybody

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Jennifer (aka EM)
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: heartbreak-boys
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
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Elyse  Walters
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Whitney Atkinson
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

TW: Violence/gore, rape, drug abuse

This book reminded me of Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, not because their subject matter is anything alike, but because I had the same reaction to both books. Throughout the duration of the book it was very impactful and heavy, and I may have shed a tear or two, but as soon as I closed the book the weight of it just fell upon me and it made me start crying in full.

Wow. This book is truly unlike anything I've read before. I can't even fathom t
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nandakishore Varma
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca McNutt
For anyone out there who thinks war is "exciting" or "cool", that it's like a videogame or a film, this harrowing account from a former child soldier will make you think twice, no doubt about it. As he recalls the fear, grief and horror of the situation, his story becomes really powerful and one that hopefully people will remember for a long time.
Nov 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"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
Kristy K
Another tragic, eye-opening read.
Chronicles Beah's childhood/teenage years in Sierra Leone.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The story is about, as the title says, a boy soldier that fought in the civil war in Sierra Leone. It tells the story of his journey on foot to escape the rebels who attacked his village, how he ended up as a soldier and how he managed to be saved and rehabilitated. It is a haunting and a vivid story about the atrocities of war.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Henry Martin
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is the subject of my final project for Human Development psych class, and as such I will be updating the review at a later date.

While this story is an important one, for me the book did not go deep inside the issue enough to make any real impact. I had known about child soldiers before, and I expected to read more about the psychological impact, et cetera.

I may be too hard on this, because I do not read biographies often, and whenever I read biographies from Africa, I tend to compare
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren Elise
Feb 25, 2018 marked it as dnf
Shelves: school
[10th Grade]

DNF ~40%

Found a scene very triggering and had to ask for a different book.
Toai Trinh
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2013 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
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an incredibly sad story. This book went full circle as it covered the life of a little boy in war-torn Sierra Leone. It starts out with him happily tucked between two families that love him, then he is ripped out of that little piece of reality . This story covers how the limits one sets for himself in life can be eroded away by life experiences that pick away at that line, blurring it, especially when survival and safety are on the line. Such tragedy.
Tj Barnaba
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographical
The world undergoes problems, a whole load honestly. In this book light is shed on one of these problems. A problem that a part of the world might not have a clue about: the life and plight of a childsoldier. Ishmael Beah a Sierra leone boychild brings out his past in this book. the traumas he went through as a childsoldier and his eventual breakthrough.It was alot of heartgetting content in the book. Ishmael undergoes alot, the shine however fares in the end.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
How horrific! The amount of trauma both incurred and inflicted is immeasurable. What these boys have experienced simply to have their needs met is no way to live. Ishmael is the exception not the rule.

2017 Lenten nonfiction Buddy Reading Challenge book # 37
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, history, military
A glimpse into the world of the child soldier. For two years as a young teenager, the author was forcibly recruited into a Sierra Leonean rebel army which exploited children for use as soldiers. Under age, under equipped and under trained, placed into situations young teenagers should never be placed into, their lives were frequently cut short. Those that survived this brutal and violent universe live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. This important memoir shows the appalling depths h ...more
Himanshu Karmacharya
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is a memoir of Ishmael Beah who was forced to become a child soldier and participate in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002).

The author gives a vivid description of his life before the war, and especially during the war. The pain and sufferings that he had to suffer and see others suffer are so distressing to read. He tells his story in the most compelling manner that keeps the readers invested in the book.

The book is a gut-wrenching portrait of the horrors of war that will crush you
Chelsea Cripps
May 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Usman Hickmath
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will make you cry. It will also make you realise how blessed are we to have this life we live.
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
The story written is 5 stars but the book ends abruptly. No spoilers but important information left out.

Beah wrote this like an action story, with many gruesome tales then you read a line about the boys age and you remember just that. They were just boys 6-17 years old and Beah survived these atrocities.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. Wars continue and have similarities that we can all learn from.
Julia Graf
Apr 15, 2011 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
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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

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