07 February 2008

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah writes about his life in Sierra Leon in the mid 1990s. After being forced from his home by war, he ends up spending two teenage years as a solider in the civil war. About half the book though is about his rehabilitation and what happens to him after the war; it could be a lot more graphic than it is, although it's still plenty violent.

I particularly enjoyed this book after reading The Devil That Danced on the Water and Ancestor Stones, both of which are by Aminatta Forna and about Sierra Leon. (If you're looking for fiction about Africa, I highly recommend Ancestor Stones.) Forna's Devil covers earlier history, but gives a little background into the conflict that steals Beah's childhood. And the timeline at the end of Beah's book is very useful.

There are better writers out there (it's rather slow in parts, especially the beginning), but Beah still tells a good story. I'd like to hear his tale in person. Recommended.


  1. Sounds interesting. I know practically nothing about Sierra Leon; perhaps this would be a good place to start?

  2. I'd probably start with one of Forna's books instead. Beah's book is much more limited in what it covers.

  3. This one is on my TBR too and I can't wait to read it!

    I just wanted to let you that I just found your blog today and I'm so excited! I have loved browsing through all of your posts. I wanted to read them all! I'm adding this to my reader for sure. Your reading tastes seem quite similar. I'm LDS as well and in the SLC valley. I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog!

  4. I'm glad you came by then. I think I'm going to enjoy your blog too.