A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier, Paperback Book

A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


The first-person account of a 26-year-old who fought in the war in Sierra Leone as a 12-year-old boy. 'My new friends have begun to suspect that I haven't told them the full story of my life. "Why did you leave Sierra Leone?" "Because there is a war." "You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?" "Yes, all the time." "Cool." I smile a little. "You should tell us about it sometime." "Yes, sometime."' This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s.

There are more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide and it is estimated there are some 300,000 child soldiers fighting.

Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier?

How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives.

But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

Ishmael Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve in Sierra Leone, 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 he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: True war & combat stories
  • ISBN: 9780007247097



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

An important memoir of the horror experienced by thousands of children across Africa (and elsewhere), this is a glimpse into the problems that continue to plague Africa. Fascinating, educational, brutally honest, but lacking literary style or polish, making it feel a little like a school report.

Review by

Ishmael Beah is visiting our school this year and kids in the Middle School have been asked to read his book before he comes. I thought I should read it before Ruth so that I would be able to talk about it with her. I'm glad I did as Ishmael's story is so sad and it is hard to remember as you are reading about his experiences that he was only 12 years old when the war in Sierra Leone first impacted his life. A very moving book, and I think that it will be interesting to see what our cossetted children make of his life story.

Review by

The true story of a year 12 year old conscripted into the warring factions in Africa and taught how to kill and mame or be killed himself. It is also the story of his redemption

Review by

A poignant page-turner, narrated very simply. After reading this book I now know better than to draw facile conclusions about the use the children in war. A real education.

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