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A Long Way Gone summary

Ishmael Beah

Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

4.3 (33 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is a memoir about his experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. His journey from a carefree childhood to a brutal war-torn reality exposes the devastating consequences of war on children.

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    A Long Way Gone
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    The civil war in Sierra Leone seemed to come out of nowhere, turning life upside-down.

    From the perspective of the Western world, Africa may seem synonymous with civil strife and war. But this is just a generalization; African nations desire peace just as much as any other country. Even Sierra Leone enjoyed years of peace before civil war erupted in the 1990s.

    As a child, the author recalls happy memories, such as watching his mother prepare meals, or joining friends to dance to hip-hop music at talent shows. All in all, his childhood was not unlike that of many other children across the world.

    In fact, any talk of war usually came from movies and books, or the occasional BBC report on the ongoing war in Liberia, a neighboring country. So when war did break out, it came as a surprise.

    One day in January 1993, the author, his older brother Junior and a friend named Talloi traveled to the town of Mattru Jong, a 16-mile journey from their hometown of Mogbwemo. The boys had come to Mattru Jong for a talent show, and planned to stay at a friend’s house.

    When their friend met them, however, he brought bad news: the author’s home of Mogbwemo had just been attacked by a rebel group.

    The author and his brother decided to return home to search for their parents and siblings, but on the way their minds were quickly changed. They saw hordes of people fleeing Mogbwemo, many wounded, every person carrying what they could with them.

    And when they saw the first dead body, it became clear to the boys that their family must have also fled Mogbwemo. Frightened, they turned back toward safety and the village of Mattru Jong.

    The change from living a peaceful life with family one day to having no idea  where your parents are the next was a horror in and of itself, but the war brought horrors much worse.

    Next, you’ll learn what war means for the most vulnerable population of any country – its children.

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    What is A Long Way Gone about?

    A Long Way Gone (2007) is a story of how, as a young boy in Sierra Leone, the author found himself caught in a civil war and recruited as a child soldier. You’ll travel alongside during his harrowing journey, eventual rescue and recovery guided through the kindness and grace of loving people.

    A Long Way Gone Review

    A Long Way Gone (2007) is a gripping memoir that takes readers on a harrowing journey through the life of Ishmael Beah as he navigates the horrors of war in Sierra Leone. Here's why this book is worth a read:

    • Beah's raw and honest storytelling offers a unique perspective on the devastating effects of war, providing a powerful insight into the human experience.
    • The book's compelling narrative explores the themes of resilience, hope, and redemption, leaving readers deeply moved and introspective.
    • By sharing his personal story, Beah sheds light on the universal human struggle for survival, fostering empathy and understanding among readers.

    Who should read A Long Way Gone?

    • Anyone interested in modern history of Sierra Leone
    • Students of history exploring civil wars and warfare
    • People curious about the ongoing plight of child soldiers in Africa

    About the Author

    Former child soldier Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone and is now an author and human rights activist living in New York.

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    A Long Way Gone FAQs 

    What is the main message of A Long Way Gone?

    The main message of A Long Way Gone is the power of resilience and the human spirit in the face of war and adversity.

    How long does it take to read A Long Way Gone?

    The reading time for A Long Way Gone varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is A Long Way Gone a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A Long Way Gone is a compelling and eye-opening read that offers valuable insights into the impact of war on children. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of A Long Way Gone?

    The author of A Long Way Gone is Ishmael Beah.

    What to read after A Long Way Gone?

    If you're wondering what to read next after A Long Way Gone, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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