Dave's Reviews > Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War

Innocents Lost by Jimmie Briggs
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's review
Jun 22, 2009

it was amazing

Having studied and written about the horrors of child warfare myself in Heart of Diamonds, I appreciate the way Jimmie Briggs helps us understand this terrible phenomenon. Using children as soldiers is not a modern innovation, but he shows how it has evolved in an age of light, cheap weapons and insidious guerrilla warfare.

The greatest strength of Innocents Lost is the way personal stories of children pressed into war are put into the context of the larger conflicts in which they fight. Briggs also does a good job of showing the effects of the phenomenon on not just the children but on their families and others as well.

I particularly appreciated his refusal to sensationalize the children's stories. Briggs is a journalist, not a dramatist, and he used his skills to present the individual stories with passion while resisting the urge to make us wallow in pathos. Even with his objective tone, it is difficult to read the accounts--often told in the children's own words--without being deeply saddened.

While much of the research behind this book was done several years ago, it should be noted that all five of the conflicts Briggs investigated are still going on in one form or another. As recently as October, 2008, there were reports of Rwandan children being sent to fight for the CNDP, a rebel force in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has since been integrated into the Congolese army. And Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army continues to ravage southern Sudan and the DRC, kidnapping children just the way Briggs describes.
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