A Long Way Gone
Almost everyone, at some time or other, has witnessed the “birth” of a brand new teenage boy. That magical, trying, confusing life stage of thirteen! The whole world before him – endless possibilities for the future.
Just for a moment, picture him, not with a football or cell phone or book or pizza in his hand, but with a gun cradled in his arm, and picture him an expert at using it.
Now, thank God that all you have done is imagined! For 300,000 child soldiers in areas of conflict around the world, a murder weapon in hand is a way of life. Ishmael Beah, in his memoir A Long Way Gone gives readers a vivid understanding of the life of a killer child.
Beah’s autobiography takes us though his life from age 12 in Sierra Leone when, with a band of other children, he fled rebel fighters, and after valiant attempts to elude capture, he was trapped and recruited into the Sierra Leone army.
Trained to use an AK-47 and pumped full of a wide variety of drugs, including a mix of cocaine and gunpowder, Beah evolved into a killing machine. After two years, he was rescued and sent for rehabilitation, thanks to UNICEF.
Ishmael eventually came to live in the United States, graduated from Oberlin College, and at 26, wrote his book of memoirs. He captures the reader’s interest through things like the description of his grandmother and his childhood attempts at rapping, but he shocks them to the core with straightforward statements like, “After every gunfight we would enter the rebel camp, killing those we had wounded” and “I shot everything that moved.”
It is through the experiences of Ishmael Beah that we begin to realize there exists on the planet a world where children are forced to be robotic killers. But Ishmael also lets us know that good people touched his life and, despite his horrendous experiences, he has kept his sanity and a heart-warming smile.
A Shepherd’s Diary
This book gives us the unique opportunity to follow Archbishop Oscar Romero during his last few years of life, not through someone else’s words, but his own. Published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, this book chronicles the “voice for the voiceless” from March 31, 1978, a year after he became Archbishops of San Salvador through March 20, 1980, four days before his assassination during his celebration of the Eucharist.
The book includes a foreword by Father Thomas Quigley, adviser for Latin American Affairs in the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United States Catholic Conference. Father James R. Brockman, S.J., introduces the book. Fr. Brockman is the author of Romero: A Life (Orbis Books).
While it is a hefty book of 500 pages, it provides the reader with the privilege of a day-to-day encounter with one of the most outstanding advocates for the oppressed and one of the Church’s most renowned and respected leaders.