A Long Way Gone

  • by Ishmael Beah
  • Narrated by Ishmael Beah
  • 7 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than 50 violent conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But it is rare to find a first-person account from someone who endured this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now 26 years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: how, at the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By 13, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Intense, but not intense enough

This is a story of a 12 year old boy’s life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. The writing is first person and author narrated, but did not strike me as intensely personal, or brutally honest, or deeply introspective. It effectively tells the story of how a normal kid becomes a killer, and then returns to some level of normalcy. If you are not familiar with the issue of child soldiers, this book is an excellent introduction.

I expect quite a lot from a memoir. In this case I heard the author’s intense story, but I also felt the author held back the very worst and the potentially most powerful. It is completely understandable for a young man (now 26) to be unready to express the fullness of the story, but a memoir should await that readiness.

The narration is good, but a bit dry and in a very few places difficult to understand.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the issues surrounding child soldiers, but as a memoir, or as literature, I found it weak.

There is an appendix dryly recapping the history of Sierra Leone which seemed a pretty odd way to end a memoir.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."

Author's voice

What did you like best about this story?

I appreciated that the account was written and narrated by a boy with first-hand experience. He explains his fear and struggle for survival from his own experiences and you begin to understand, reluctantly, how an innocent child with such a big heart could perform such atrocities. You also learn that these tainted children, at least some of them, have the capacity for rehabilitation and the ability to attain happiness after such horrible experiences full of hatred and violence. His story makes you question humanity, but his survival and recovery will return hope and faith of the good in this world. This book makes you want to become an activist for the plight of these children and their families.

What about Ishmael Beah’s performance did you like?

I like that it was his story; it added to the narrative knowing it was his experiences he was telling you about.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It did get under my skin and I had a hard time not thinking about it when I was away.

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- B. Bunt "EmergVet"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-19-2013
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio