A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

At twelve years old, Ishmael Beah fled his home ahead of the violent rebels who murdered his family and many of his friends.  A year later, he was conscripted as a soldier in the government's depleted army.  Fed drugs to keep them obedient, given guns to carry and use, and kept in line with violence, Beah and his fellow child soldiers carried out one atrocity after another.  

A Long Way Gone is Beah's memoir of his fractured, horrifying adolescence and his long road to escape and recovery.

“When I was young, my father used to say, ‘If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen.  If there is nothing good left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die.’  I thought about these words during my journey, and they kept me moving even when I didn’t know where I was going.  Those words became the vehicle that drove my spirit forward and made it stay alive.”

Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980.  In 1998, he moved to the United States with the help of UNICEF and completed high school and college.  Now a human rights activist, speaker, and novelist (Radiance of Tomorrow, 2014), he lives in New York City.

Published:  2007
Length:  229 pages
Set in:  Sierra Leone