Reviewed by Lisa
Ishmael Beah came to the United States when he was seventeen and graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. He is a member of Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations on several occasions. He lives in New York City.

This relatively short book takes the reader from a time when Mr. Beah was essentially a carefree child, through hell and back out the other side to a new life. I could not put this book down; the tension and fear were palpable. I knew there were boy soldiers but I couldn't imagine how children could become cold-blooded killers. By the time this story reaches the point when Mr. Beah finally became a soldier, you could begin to imagine how it could happen. The horrors he encounters throughout the war years are vividly portraited but not dwelled upon. Even knowing that the auther has clearly found his way to a safe place, the reader can't help but be concerned as he details his rehabilitation and survival. I was left with a profound sadness for all of the children of wars that are ongoing.

Type: Memoir, 218 pages, Trade Paperback


A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.
There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. 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 Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.

Everyone in the world should read this book. Not just because it contains an amazing story, or because it's our moral, bleeding-heart duty, or because it's clearly written. We should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human. The Washington Post - Carolyn See
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