Today, I finished my reading of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I’ve studied Sierra Leone and the issues of child soldiers, conflict diamonds, the RUF, and West Africa in general for some time. I heard of this book on NPR’s Fresh Air program one day not long ago. The author was articulate and expressive in his interview and he writes in the same manner. How he lived through these things and came out with a soul is amazing. He was a boy soldier with the government troops, bad enough, but I wonder how it would have turned out if he had been with the RUF?
My son said that he had seen this author on Jon Stuart’s Daily Show. I’m disappointed that I missed that interview. You can see that interview by going to this blog: http://fifthestate.co.uk/2007/02/the-book-that-made-jon-stewarts-heart-hurt/
I found the memoir to be well-written, and though intense and one that indeed (as the link above points out) makes the heart hurt, it is a book that you should not miss. There is an excellent chronology of the history of Sierra Leone at the end, and the reader is sure to learn much about the culture of Sierra Leone. Another site you must go to is Peter Anderson’s rich site, http://sierra-leone.org
Because of his work with the Peace Corp in Sierra Leone, and because of his love and knowledge of the culture, I believe Peter Anderson’s site to be the most helpful and knowledgeable resource on Sierra Leone available. I have corresponded with Peter and several of his friends and contacts he directed me to for help in researching my own novel on the conflict diamond industry. I’ve been working on it for six years off and on, ever since I heard a radio interview of a senator concerning the war and suffering there. My working title originally was, Blood Diamonds of the Lost Bazaar. I’ll have to see the new movie, Blood Diamond, to see if I need to change that title. I truly enjoyed A Long Way Gone and feel I grew as a result of this book.