The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone. We hope they will enrich your experience as you explore his inspiring, infinitely valuable story.
An estimated 300,000 child soldiers now fight in the more than fifty violent conflicts raging around the globe. Far removed from the world of pundits and journalists, policymakers and diplomats, a thirteen-year-old boy named Ishmael Beah became one of these young warriors in Sierra Leone. Now in his mid-twenties, he courageously tells of the horrific road that led him to wield an AK-47 and, fueled by trauma and drugs, commit terrible acts. A Long Way Gone brings a rare voice of frontline realism to a widely publicized (and widely misunderstood) human-rights crisis.
In poignantly clear and dauntless storytelling, Ishmael describes how he fled brutal rebel soldiers, traveling miles from home on foot and gradually being reduced to a life of raw survival instincts. Yet, unlike so many of his peers, Ishmael lived to reclaim his true self, emerging from Sierra Leone as the gentle, hopeful young man he was at heart. His memoir is at once crucial testimony for understanding the tragedy of contemporary war zones, and a testament to the power of peacemakers.