A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:55 Inam Abidi Amrohvi

Book cover 'A Long Way'A review of Ishmael Beah's true story.


Immovable object irresistible force! For Ishmael Beah, it was a case of immense strength from within. His account of a child soldier is to be read to believe.

'A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier' by Ishmael Beah is a coming of age story. You can't but admire the resolve of a former child soldier who went on to write his experiences as a book. The account in itself is a first rate effort.

Ishmael's story is based in the Sierra Leone of 1990s. The book chronicles the life of a fun loving 12 year old. The boy, driven by the civil unrest in the country, accidentally ends up as a ruthless child soldier, only to be rehabilitated into the society years later. It is a story of true human spirit, one that survived extreme violence and suffering.

Ishmael path, from guns and drugs to pen and paper, is a rare phenomenon. It is also a sad commentary on how modern warfare exploits children. It's not just about dead men and widows anymore.

A long way scores on two counts. First, it is a true story of hope and survival. Second, the way it's presented as a first time effort. The author offers a more human account of war. And there lies the strength of the book. The Ishmaels of our times are the biggest casualties of war. The book gives voice to all such wasted childhoods.

A long way avoids the obvious trap of pity to raise awareness about a much overlooked subject. It can be used as a tool to address a serious global issue. For this reason alone, we should be thankful to Ishmael Beah.


---Inam Abidi Amrohvi, Editor, The Other News