A Long Way Gone


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‘Why did you leeave Sierra Leone?’

‘Because there is a war.’

‘Did you witness some of the fighting?’

‘Everybody in the country did.’


I smile a little.

‘You should tell us about it sometime.’

‘Yes sometime.’

This is the story of Ishmael Beah’s childhood — how, aged just 12, he fled from rebels attacking his village to wander a violent land, before  being conscripted into the army — where he learnt that he too was capable of terrible acts. Once he emerged he decided to tell his story, a story of the loss of innocence and the power of redemption.

This is the first first-hand account of how wars are now fought: by children, on drugs, with AK-47s. In more than fifty conflicts going on  worldwide, there are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah was one of them.

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