A Long Way GoneBy: Ishmael Beah

When Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone was published in 2007,...

Former Sierra Leonean child soldier Ishmael Beah discusses the war in his memoir, A Long Way Gone.
Long Way Gone
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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldierby Ishmael Beah

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

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  • Listen to Ishmael Beah read from his book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier in this audiobook excerpt. This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

    In 1993, at the age of 12 he fled attacking rebels who destroyed his village inSierra Leone. By 13 he had been picked up by the government army and been made achild soldier. His memoir, A Long Way Gone, tells his story.

  • A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is, I think, the saddest novel I’ve ever read. Even if it was a piece of fiction and not a memoir of Ishmael Beah’s own life as a boy soldier during it would still be an incredibly moving and sad story. But I think the fact that it is Beah’s own account of his experiences of losing his family, being scared, homeless, starved, beat, and forced to kill people for his own survival makes it a really difficult book to read without crying. I remember not being able to put this book down, but at the same time feeling so horrified at the events and not only full of sorrow, but also full of anger. No one should have to experience things like this ever (well, that’s a given perspective unless you’re an absolutely hateful person) and the fact that Ishmael was one of the luckier ones is a horrible thing to think. There are so many awful things in this world, and sometimes that really makes me wish there was an alternate universe we good people could just apparate to (if the world was a magical place like in Harry Potter) where nothing bad like this ever happened. Very unlikely I know, but a girl can dream.

    Crichton: So, Ishmael, it’s been a very hectic time for you since A Long Way Gone was published three years ago, but I gather you’re finally back writing again.

    Anonymous 12 months ago
    The book A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is about learning to overcome any kind of struggle or hardship you endure in life. Ishmael Beah lived in Sierra Leone during war times and witnessed just about every aspect of war and also lived both sides. During the war he lost his parents and his brother was killed in front of him. After everything and everyone he cared about was ripped from him he was convinced to become a soldier to fight off the people that robbed him of his life and gain some closer. UNICEF took him to a rehabilitation center to get him away from the war and drugs. He overcame the worst life anyone could live and made it to the point where he could give people knowledge about how terrible war really is by sharing his story with them. I really enjoyed the entire book but if I had to choose a part I didn’t like it would be how quick the book goes from crazy to calm. I really liked how it gives readers closer to Ishmael’s life and how he finally got real closer and gained something out of losing so much. This book is actually my favorite book and a great read. It shows that it’s possible to make it through anything in life and to learn from struggles and make them into a lesson to share with others. The book also explains that sometimes revenge is not the best idea.

  • Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is a personal narrative about his experience in Sierra Leone's civil war. He tries to escape the rebels, is taken in as a boy soldier, and is rehabilitated by UNICEF. The book has a strong message about the child fighting in Africa. Beah hives accurate descriptions of his day to day life. Some of the events are horrific and scar him for life, such as seeing dead bodies all over invaded and burning villages. His personal feelings and his psychological troubles that are told provide great insight into the effects of the turmoil continuously happening in African countries. While some of the story seems repetitive and drawn out, it is the truth as it happened and as people need to know it. Most people know of at least some of the things that take place in these hostile environments, but they often do not realize the full impact the battles and killings have on the people, especially the children. This book gives an accurate, well done description of what it is like, and while things like this have to be experienced to understand all of the fear and anger; it reveals some of the truths and horrors to try to stop the injustices.

    "Beah's memoir joins an elite class of writing: Africans witnessing Africanwars. I think of "Sozaboy," Ken Saro-Wiwa's masterly novel about a young soldierduring the Biafran war, or "Machete Season," Jean Hatzfeld's book ofblood-chilling interviews with Rwandan killers. "A Long Way Gone" makes youwonder how anyone comes through such unrelenting ghastliness and horror with hishumanity and sanity intact. Unusually, the smiling, open face of the author onthe book jacket provides welcome and timely reassurance. Ishmael Beah seems toprove it can happen."

Praise for A LONG WAY GONE - Crater High School

The reporters have assembled their case by interviewing subjects who claim that the memoir's most harrowing scenes didn't happen, or at least not in the gruesome fashion Beah describes. A Jan. 21 piece states: "A large number of people in Beah's home region, including a local chief, a Catholic priest, medical staff at his local hospital, his family's former neighbours, several local miners and Beah's former school principal have independently confirmed to The Australian that the attacks he describes on his home town and region happened in January 1995, not January 1993 as stated in his book." Dan Chaon, Beah's writing professor from Oberlin College, is paraphrased in a Jan. 21 piece agreeing that any inaccuracies in A Long Way Gone should be chalked up to "poetic license." The reporters also pointed out that Beah began working on his memoir with Chaon as fiction, suggesting that embellishments remained after Beah recast the project as nonfiction. A follow-up article on Jan. 25 alleges exaggerations in the map at the beginning of the book. A piece on Jan. 26 quotes both UNICEF relief workers and Western journalists who were stationed in Sierra Leone during the civil war stating that they could not recall the deadly fight in which six people died at the refugee camp which Beah portrays in his book. On Feb. 2, Wilson reported that Beah's former schoolteachers had even located academic documents that prove Beah was in school in March 1993, months after he claims to have fled the rebel attack on Mattru Jong.