They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers Hardcover – Oct 26 2010
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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.”
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Too long---he doesn't cut to the chase. The information and the story of course are incredible but it gets too long and dragged out.Published 15 months ago by penelope costin
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