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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier  

Guide to Ishmael Beah's memoir of the civil war in Sierra Leone
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Sierra Leone/Africa


Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone Scenery


School Destoyed in Civil War


Koldu Market


Koldu Street


All People's Congress (APC) Political Rally in Kabala 1968



Here are a few things to think about when reading A Long Way Gone:

  • How group-think changes an individual’s thoughts & behavior
  • The need to belong
  • Changing social relationships in times of chaos
  • Reclaiming former personality after change & trauma
  • Family & community life before, during, and after a period of upheaval
  • The pathway through self-healng and reintegrating into society


    The Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002) was in part a reaction to government corruption and economic collapse. It began when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s national Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), began their attempt to overthrow the government.

    According to the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, an estimated 150,000 people died in the war, more than half the country was rendered homeless, 600,000 refugees (12% of the population) fled to neighboring countries, more than 200,000 women were raped, and about 1,000 civilians suffered the amputation of one or more limbs. 

    For more information about the Sierra Leone Civil War and its use of child soldiers, go to World History in Context and search for Sierra Leone child soldiers.

    For more information about child soldiers, go to Global Issues in Context.


    IMPORTANT:  You must create a Films on Demand account in the Library  to view these films from other locations.  Setting up an account is easy.  Any of the librarians can walk you through the process.

    Films on Demand has several films exploring the Sierra Leone Civil War, including:

    • Last Chance for Peace in Sierra Leone
      Documents peace efforts of the Interreligious Council of Sierra Leone. Topics include atrocities committed against civilians and the power of religion to affect politics. Contains an overview of Sierra Leone's history, news footage, and interviews.
    • Echoes of War
      Child survivors of war and violence in Afghanistan, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and New York City share their memories, nightmares, and details of their current lives.
    • Consequences of Conflict
      Examines the economic, environmental, and social impacts of conflicts in Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan Includes a segment on child soldiers.
    • Diamonds of War
      Examines the global traffic in diamonds and its role in financing armed conflicts in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
    • Africa: War is Business
      Explores the role of international business interests in fomenting rebellion and arming renegade military forces across the African continent. Includes segments on Sierra Leone’s diamond trade.

    Selected Articles

    Selected Websites

    • A Long Way Gone
      Publisher’s website dedicated to A Long Way Gone. Includes articles, reviews, and videos featuring Ishmael Beah.
    • Ishmael Beah Foundation
      The Ishmael Beah Foundation (IBF) is a private, independent institution dedicated to helping children and youth affected by war reintegrate into society and improve their lives.
    • Sierra Leone Web
      News and information about Sierra Leone, including daily news and archives, history, culture, and images.

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