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A Long Way Gone Paperback – Aug 5 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & Mcintyre (Aug. 5 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155365398X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553653981
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army—in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF and partnering NGOs. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the U.S., where he now lives. (Beah graduated from Oberlin College in 2004.) Told in clear, accessible language by a young writer with a gifted literary voice, this memoir seems destined to become a classic firsthand account of war and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This gripping story by a children's-rights advocate recounts his experiences as a boy growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, during one of the most brutal and violent civil wars in recent history. Beah, a boy equally thrilled by causing mischief as by memorizing passages from Shakespeare and dance moves from hip-hop videos, was a typical precocious 12-year-old. But rebel forces destroyed his childhood innocence when they hit his village, driving him to leave his home and travel the arid deserts and jungles of Africa. After several months of struggle, he was recruited by the national army, made a full soldier and learned to shoot an AK-47, and hated everyone who came up against the rebels. The first two thirds of his memoir are frightening: how easy it is for a normal boy to transform into someone as addicted to killing as he is to the cocaine that the army makes readily available. But an abrupt change occurred a few years later when agents from the United Nations pulled him out of the army and placed him in a rehabilitation center. Anger and hate slowly faded away, and readers see the first glimmers of Beah's work as an advocate. Told in a conversational, accessible style, this powerful record of war ends as a beacon to all teens experiencing violence around them by showing them that there are other ways to survive than by adding to the chaos.—Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cried through the reading of this book. It was so sad to see the young boys pressed into 'being soldiers'. Ishmael's entire family was killed when rebels destroyed his village, as they did many villages. Ishmael was not a rebel, instead he was conscripted by the army. But the conditions were no better than that of the rebels. Later he was saved by an organization set on rehabilitating young soldiers. Ishmael went to school, was taken in by an uncle he never met and put his old life behind him as best he could. We now know him as a successful writer living in New York. This is a book not to be overlooked. Ishmael writes the book in a way that makes you care for him throughout the good and the bad.
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By Jenny TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 23 2007
Format: Hardcover
I like to say that "A Long Way Gone" is quite a depressing story but very inspiring. Ishmael Beah tells the story of becoming a boy soldier in Sierra Leone and of his later rehabilitation. This was a heartbreaking story and very difficult to read from an emotional standpoint. I read the book over a short period of time as it is so gripping that I did not want to put it down, but at the same time it brought an overwhelming sense of sorrow. The horror that Beah so well describes, was unbelievably moving.

The book is well written and flows rather nicely. However, the story itself is so incredible that, even if it were poorly constructed, it would have been worth reading. Saying that it was "worth reading" is not really adequate. All people should read it in order to remind us what the reality of life is outside of Western culture. It is partly because we block incidents like those described by Beah that they can continue to happen.

I would not presume to know how to stop the carnage that occurs in so many Third World countries, but I can not help but think that if we as a society, were more aware of them and had to face the emotions and gut wrenching sorrow that come with the knowledge of such atrocities, we would be far less willing to allow them to happen.

Ishmael Beah has demonstrated that he is a remarkable individual with great reserves. He shows what changes can come about when people are caring and thoughtful of others. I would venture to say that Ishmael Beah feels guilt for what he has done. However, I think he should be proud of the fact that he has endured and triumph over so much evil and pain in becoming who he is today. It was an honor to be allowed to read Beah's story, as it must have been as equally difficult to recount it, as it was to live through it. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Incredible. I remember when I saw Jon Stewart's interview with Ishmael Beah that Stewart said that the book "made my heart hurt." Incredibly, terribly, amazingly true. Beah tells his story in a way that is simple and genuine. His writing style is not terribly developed and at times can be a bit rough, but that is more than compensated for by the fact that the story he has to tell is so mind-boggling. Beah chronicles the collapse of order in Sierra Leone, at least insofar as it affected his village and local area; his flight from his home and attempts to survive in the wild; his recruitment as a boy soldier, and his rehabilitation.

His story is so compelling that it held my grade eleven class of hard-bitten non-readers spellbound as I read the entire book to them aloud over the course of a few weeks. When I read the book for the first time, I went and hugged my wife and all of my children just to give thanks for their lives, and I'm not the sort of person who does that sort of thing ordinarily. (Not that I'm a jerk or anything, I just don't cry when Bambi gets shot.)

This is one of the books that everyone should read, if only to realize how damn lucky most of us are.
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Format: Hardcover
In my opinion, all great books are depressing and at the same time, uplifting. Such is the case with LONG WAY GONE. I'm attracted to books set in exotic locales, and this one fit the bill perfectly. What I wasn't prepared for was the remarkable writing style and great story. The story of a boy becoming a man, this is no average "coming of age" tale. Ishmael Beah teaches us something great in this work--that we can change, and that we can change others. Given the situation of the world today, I can't help but think this book is all the more relevant. I've recently read three incredible books lately, and this was by far the best---actually a tie with A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and the incredible novel MIDDLESEX by Eugenides. I highly recommend all these.
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Format: Paperback
Wow. It's rare for me to get hit by a book so much and feel so bad that I just want to hop on a plane to the country and help everyone out. But that's only because there are not many books out there like A Long Way Gone, not many books out there about child soldiers or children in Africa who are being affected by poverty, dehydration, violence and abuse constantly. We are so hidden from the rest of the world in our big suburban communities, in our huge cities with blazing lights, billboards that show the newest music, restaurants with the most exotic foods, and most of all, we are hidden from people like Ishmael Beah, and there are probably hundreds of thousands of Ishmael Beahs in countries like Sierra Leone. It just hurts me so bad, and this book really did hurt me. A Long Way Gone seems so fictional because it is so difficult for us readers to put ourselves in the shoes of our protagonist, Ishmael, who writes about his personal demons and battles as a child, being taken by foreign people, thrown into a truck with an AK-47 and being taught to kill, taking drugs and losing his family. There is so much that this book contains that is unimaginable, although Ishmael gives us the chance to believe that this is reality, for many young children and people who are constantly struggling, without the rest of the world knowing.

We are always told that we could make a difference. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to visit these poor African countries. I don't know if I'll ever make it to the United Nations and speak for them (most likely, not). But because of all that Beah had done and conquered in his life in Sierra Leone, I'm going to state a very cheesy point here: our dreams could most definitely come true.
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