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They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers [Hardcover]

Romeo Dallaire
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 26 2010
"The ultimate focus of the rest of my life is to eradicate the use of child soldiers and to eliminate even the thought of the use of children as instruments of war." —Roméo Dallaire

In conflicts around the world, there is an increasingly popular weapon system that requires negligible technology, is simple to sustain, has unlimited versatility and incredible capacity for both loyalty and barbarism. In fact, there is no more complete end-to-end weapon system in the inventory of war-machines. What are these cheap, renewable, plentiful, sophisticated and expendable weapons? Children.

Roméo Dallaire was first confronted with child soldiers in unnamed villages on the tops of the thousand hills of Rwanda during the genocide of 1994. The dilemma of the adult soldier who faced them is beautifully expressed in his book's title: when children are shooting at you, they are soldiers, but as soon as they are wounded or killed they are children once again.

Believing that not one of us should tolerate a child being used in this fashion, Dallaire has made it his mission to end the use of child soldiers. In this book, he provides an intellectually daring and enlightening introduction to the child soldier phenomenon, as well as inspiring and concrete solutions to eradicate it.

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They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers + Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Roméo Dallaire came to global ­attention for his efforts to stop the Rwandan genocide while serving with the U.N. He also received enormous praise for his book on the subject, Shake Hands with the Devil, which won a 2004 Governor General’s Literary Award. Since retiring from the military a decade ago, Dallaire’s chief mission in life has been the fight to eradicate the use of child soldiers, a practice he first ­encountered in Rwanda. Dallaire argues that eliminating this scourge requires nothing short of a complete paradigm shift – we need to see these children not simply as victims of abuse but as “weapons systems.” His reasoning is straightforward: if children are indeed weapons systems, it should be possible to decommission them.

Dallaire portrays the making, training, and deployment of child soldiers in detail that is often painful to read. He enumerates the many reasons why children have become the weapons of choice in conflicts around the world, both by governments and criminal enterprises such as the drug trade. The worldwide proliferation of light weapons is partly to blame, as is the sheer plenitude of available recruits: overpopulation has made children a virtually limitless, self-renewing resource. Children are used as combatants, bait, cannon fodder, and even sex slaves. They are cheap to employ and easily replaced.

If Shake Hands with the Devil was an elegy, They Fight Like Soldiers is a call to ­action. Forced to look on as thousands ­perished in Rwanda, Dallaire is determined to make a tangible impact on a problem that affects more than 25 million children around the globe. He has already begun to do so through his role as leader of the Child Soldiers Initiative, a coalition of military members, ex-child soldiers, NGOs, and academics. Dallaire explains CSI’s mandate, why previous strategies failed, and how technology and the Internet can empower average citizens in the fight for change.

With his tremendous compassion, tenacity, and crusading spirit, Dallaire has earned the public’s respect and admiration in a way few Canadian public figures ever have. Given the heaviness of its subject, many will choose not to read this book. Yet the world ignored Dallaire once before, with terrible consequences. This time he deserves our full attention.


A Globe and Mail Best Book
“A compelling, moving and insightful book that exposes the problem of child soldiers in all its dimensions. . . . The book is emblematic of Dallaire’s resolve, compassion and abiding commitment to justice. . . . Refreshingly sincere.”
 — Samantha Nutt, The Globe and Mail (Best Book)
 — Calgary Herald
“Discover for yourself the compassion that shines through in this book. . . . Heartbreaking and informative. . . . After all the horrors Dallaire has seen, his enthusiasm and optimism is a wonder. But it’s also infectious and refreshing.” 
 — The Gazette
“Painful but beautifully rendered.”
 — The Vancouver Sun
“As a documentation of the changing face of modern global warfare it is a must-read.” 
 — Telegraph-Journal

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable book! Nov. 4 2010
Over four years ago, I read his first book "Shake Hands with the Devil" about his time during the genocide in Rwanda. That book alone has both haunted me and made me a whole person. It has no doubt changed me profoundly. Now with this new book, he uses his experience as a soldier and a humanitarian to writing a case study on the phenomenon of children being used as a weapons system. He goes into great details of how these kids are becoming a handy way for rouge leaders to fight their wars. In the end, he makes the case for these children and how we can all make a difference in these children lives. This is nothing short of a fearless, bold, tragic, and passionate clarion call on behalf of these children may it be child soldiers or war affected children. I urge everyone to read this extraordinary and unforgettable book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Important subject, excellent review Oct. 26 2014
In this book about the use of the child soldier as a weapon system and the problems that stem from that, Dallaire combines uses a good combination of story-telling and facts to clarify the roots and the consequences of the problem. Running through the book between more objective chapters are fictional narratives that show how child soldiers are treated, and, importantly, how their experiences make them feel and react to situations in their lives. Likewise, Dallaire explores the emotional consequences felt by adult soldiers or peace keepers who may encounter child soldiers and may even be faced with killing them.
This is an important work that does an excellent job of elucidating this complex problem and even ends with suggestions on how we all can work to eradicate the use of children in warfare too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Cause March 30 2011
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
L.Gen. the Hon. Roméo Dallaire (Ret'd), was the commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, there he experienced first-hand the horrors committed during the 1994 genocide. In his memoirs "Shakes Hands with the Devil", he highly criticised and exposed the failures of the international community. Mr. Dallaire is known to be a strong humanitarian, an advocate of human rights and has dedicated his life to the cause for which he has been recognized and has received numerous awards.

In his second book, he reveals another important cause he is equally dedicated to: the fight to eradicate the use of child soldiers.

From the opening pages it is evident that Mr. Dallaire is very affected and still haunted by the memories of the Rwanda genocide. He relates how the life of a child is drastically altered when he is abducted, brainwashed and forced to act as a combatant in a rebel army. Some as young as nine are taken captive, drugged and forced to witness and in some cases even slaughter their own parents. Escape is not an option, if they manage to survive all they would find is the charred remains of their past. Their fate in camps is contingent on their will to survive. They are deprived of food and sleep, rendering them totally dependent on their captors for survival while undergoing a crude form of guerrilla tactics before they are often sacrificed in combat. The fate of young girls is even worse, they are not only trained as soldiers they are often used as sex slaves and their chance of a respectable marriage becomes a dream of the past and unthinkable. In post war, these children are so psychologically damaged they are rarely able to achieve a place in society.

Since 1994, the problem of child combatants has spread to many impoverish populations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lieutenant-General Roméo A. Dallaire's Quest Dec 25 2011
As a military historian, I have studied war for decades, but nothing I've read prepared me for this book. Oh sure, I knew of the existence of child soldiers - probably the most widely known example of this perversion was the Hitler Youth who fought during World War II with a verbosity never seen before.

But what happens in other countries out of sight of the rest of the world makes their exploits seem tame in comparison. The measure of a general officer is usually based on how he faired in battles, but I think for Lieutenant-General Roméo A. Dallaire Ret. His greatest battle is still being fought.

His campaign to end the use of children in warfare is now worldwide as he tries to educate people on the cruel reality of how these children are abused along with the difficulties of reintegrating them into their population after the war.

Obviously, this book is a must for the military historian, but it should also be required reading for everyone else as well. If for no other reason than to act as a warning for mankind that cruelties beyond our imagination happen to those least able to protect themselves all over the world.

Thank you General, for fighting this battle. I hope and pray that you and those working with you are victorious.

Somehow, it seems fitting to write this review on a day when children in my part of the world are dealing with which present to open first as their biggest issue.

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service Jan. 9 2011
Received book in plenty of time to give as Christmas gift. Easy to buy from Amazon and product exactly as described.
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