Ishmael Beah went to hell and back to write A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, a disturbingly true story about his experiences as a child in Sierra Leone during civil war, in which he loses his family to violence and eventually is recruited into the army, where the atrocities he and his comrades commit are just as heinous as those of the rebels they are fighting.
One of the more gripping non-fiction books I’ve read in a while, A Long Way Gone is an extremely well written, enthralling and informative tale of what war looks like up close. Beah’s writing style is simple yet hardly simplistic; he has a way with words and storytelling. Beah walks us through several years of his life in shocking detail (he claims he has a photographic memory), including his time spent as a child soldier.
At just over 200 pages long, the book is also a fast read; I read it in under 24 hours, and my girlfriend did the same in just a couple days. But the length is not the real reason for why we read it so quickly; Beah’s tale, and how he tells it, is so fast-paced, so mesmerizing, it’s hard to put down.
For those who say that non-fiction can’t be page turners, check out A Long Way Gone. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
The book was first published in 2007, but I am clearly behind the times.