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In the Shadow of Freedom: A Heroic Journey to Liberation, Manhood, and America

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  24 reviews
From poverty to wealth, from Africa to America and from child soldier to US Marine. Born into the Congolese wilderness, Tchicaya Missamou became a child soldier at age 11. As a horrific civil war loomed across his country, Tchicaya began using his militia connections to ferry jewels, cash, computers, and white diplomats out of the country. By 17, he was rich. By 18, he was ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Atria Books (first published July 16th 2010)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This memoir broke my heart, stepped on it, then put it in a blender. Tchicaya Missamou’s story is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit. While Ishmael Beah’s >A Long Way Gone focused on his difficulties as a child solider, Missamou chronicles his life through adulthood, which contains so many horrificly tragic events it is nearly incomprehensible that he was able to overcome the memories and turn them into a moving memoir.

Missamou chronicles his life as a young boy in the Congo, a happ
Erik Hines
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A terrifying look into the injustices that are occurring in the Congo at the hands of small faction militias. This book is NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. There are extremely graphic descriptions of rape, murder, amputation, and illustrates the most despicable abilities of a people in the heart of a 'civil' war. Anything but Civil, you might read things in here that you could never have imagined in your worst nightmare. Altogether an enlightening read, my heart really felt for the people of this reg ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Having befriended a Congolese woman who rides my bus, I learned a lot about the Congo, especially the pain and suffering that has gone on there. I am grateful that she and her family can live here in the U.S. and that her children can and are taking advantage of the opportunities that Seattle provides to them. It reminds me how important the peoples who immigrate to the U.S. are to the courage and strength of this country.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. However, I would probably really give it 4.5 stars because there are a few passages that are graphically violent, although I don't know how you would avoid it in this type of story. When I got to these passages I would read the first sentence, think in my head, "It was really bad," and then skip to the next page. I knew nothing about the history of the Congo before reading this book, it made me want to learn more. And this man's story is incredibly amazing, and it's refreshing ...more
Ms. B
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I met Tchicaya Missamou and Travis Sentell at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan on vacation in August. Of course, I wanted an autographed copy of the book to read.
A positive story about hope and the American dream. Tchicaya Missamou was a boy soldier in the Congo; his incredible journey leads him to the United States and eventually to becoming a Marine. Tchicaya's story will remind you of the importance of patience, perseverance and persistence.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome, true story (and sometimes gruesome). The next time, and maybe every time thereafter, I meet someone who moved here from another country, I'll pause and wonder 1. why they came to America, 2. what they might have been going through in their lives to make them want to leave their home country, 3. what they might have gone through to get here, and 4. what it was like for them when they got here, especially if they didn't know English. ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book. It's great cultural versatility makes it not only interesting, but also educational. His strategic writing style makes the story a suspenseful one, and piece by piece it comes together, like segments from a multi-chronological movie. It does have it's graphic parts, but since this is a non-fiction, it only enriches the story. ...more
Kris Rigdon
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This story grabbed me and held me captive until I finished it the same day! One second laughing, the other second in disbelief, and jaw dropping, heart wrenching sorrow at what humankind is capable of doing to others and themselves.

I was mostly amazed at the strength a person can have and how one can rise above their environment for the good of humankind.
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome, awesome, awesome!! Three thumbs up!! What an awe-inspiring story. Every American should have to read this; especially those who take their freedom for granted!
Alison Pitt
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read this book!
Emily Stephens
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An intense read that is well worth anyone's time. ...more
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
4.5/5- To date, this is one of the best memoirs I have read.

Tchicaya Missamou was born in the Republic of Congo; this book chronicles his journey from childhood, through civil war outbreaks, escape to the US Marines, and his eventual homecoming visit. From the beginning, the author's account of childhood is so different from what we have all grown up accustomed to- Missamou recounts things that I never would have considered, such as never wearing shoes, and the first time eating cake. Missamou i
Lance G
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The author is a personal friend of mine out here in Santa Clarita , California, where he owns and operates "Warrior Fitness Camp" at His workout routines are often based on the creative routines that he used growing up in the French Congo. I am currently reading this book on my macintosh computer using the Amazon Kindle program. It is a page turner, especially for someone who has known Tchicaya as a personal friend. I am literally speechless as I read some of the i ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This book has two stories: Tchicaya's life in the Congo and subsequent escape to Europe then to the USA, and the story of his return to Congo and immediate arrest. We read a few chapters concerning the first story, then jump to a few chapters of his return... then back to the early days, then back to the present time. I found this very difficult to keep track. Other than that complaint, this was an uplifting read, and an easy story. Sadly, it contains graphic descriptions of war, rape, pillage, ...more
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
What could have been a difficult read turned out to be simple yet engrossing and entertaining.

Tchicaya showed us a much different life in Africa than exists in American. They have a rich culture and long history. They also have periods of unrest and warfare. Tchicaya chronicles his life from a young boy living in a village in the African city young love... to military business ownership...and to his quest for survival.

For me, the most interesting part of the
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it
so this has nothing to do with the book but i was at work a couple of weeks ago and some dude was kind of mackin, kind of spittin game and he asked me what i was reading lately. i told him i'd just finished this book about a congolese kid who escapes from africa and joins the US marines. He was all like "oh that's real interesting. i'd like to read that" and i said "oh cool. well my copy was an advance reader copy so" and he cuts me off with "I KNOW HOW TO READ!" and i was going to FINISH with " ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"One of the militiamen took out his machete as he thrust into Aunt Julice and stabbed her thigh, dragging the blade toward himself. He was going to cut off her leg- a traditional method of female mutilation after sexual assault."

The word “traditional” here has always struck me as a more important reminder of certain realities than the individual act of the sexual mutilation is. There is a cultural tradition not only of rape, but of the mutilation of the victim while they are being raped. This is
Veronica Nyathi
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This has to be up there among the best books I have ever read. Tchicaya Missamou rise to prominence tells of the battle of what African children who come from war torn countries have to endure, go through to finally find comfort and live in a peaceful society. With all the challenges he faced, he had hope and faith to keep going and fight for survival in the face of adversity.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This really was a good read. It was a little slow at first, but then I got sucked into this man's amazing life story. He witnessed some horrible things as a child solider in the Congo. His escape from the Congo to America was also amazing. He never gave up and really helped me realize once again how blessed I am to live in America. ...more
Aura Martinez
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The fact that this was a true story it was terrifying reading this novel. But it completely opened my eyes to seeing the terrifying things that are so blindly happening all around the world.

I recommend everyone to read this book. Such a great story of an incredibly brave man.
Jun 15, 2013 marked it as to-read
Travis is an alum of the school where I teach. I was an advisor for his senior project on astral projection.
Nov 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, culture
An amazing story; this guy is a stud.

Simple and enjoyable read.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What an awesome book...horrifying and uplifting.....
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