Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah was born in November of 1980 in Mogbwemo, Bonthe District in Sierra Leone. For the first years of his life, he lived a happy innocent childhood in his village until one day the rebels attacked and destroyed the town, forcing Beah to flee. Beah spent months wondering the roads of Sierra Leone with a group of boys his age until he was eventually captured by the military and brought to a camp with other refugees.

When the camp was surrounded by rebels, Beah was forced to become a child soldier in the military. Beah was brainwashed by a combination of drugs and fear and fought the rebels for three years before being rescued by the worldwide charity, UNICEF and brought to a rehab center. With the help of the people in the rehab center and an Uncle who later adopted him, Beah began to heal and open up to the people in the center about his past in the military and the things he did while a soldier. Beah attended the 1996 UN delegation for child soldiers.

After his uncle's death and the return of the rebel forces to the capital of Sierra Leone, Beah fled the city and moved to New York City where he lived with a foster mother, Laura Simms whom he met while in New York the year before.

Beah attended the United Nations International School and then attended Oberlin College, graduating in 2004 with a degree in political science. In 2007, Beah chronicled his experience in the memoir, 'A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier' and the book was met with instant success. In 2009, Beah, then 29, traveled back to Sierra Leone for a segment on the shows ABC News and described the return as "bittersweet".

Beah is currently at work on his second book which is to be a fictional story about the life a community returning to normalcy after a civil war.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

"A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" is a memoir published in 2007 by former child soldier Ishmael Beah. The memoir is an account of his time in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces during the civil war in the country in the 1990's. The book was applauded by critics for it's accuracy and visceral depiction of the horrors of being a child soldier. In 2006 it was nominated for a Quill … [Read more...]