beah I heard of this book when the author Ishmael Beah was interviewed on The Daily Show. Looking for that clip I note that it was just barely a year ago when it aired, Feb 14, 2007, and I finished reading the book on Feb 16, 2008 while flying back east last week.

I can’t say enough about this memoir. It brings into vivid detail the horror of civil war, the near unimaginable tragedy of child soldiers, and the author’s inspiring rehabilitation by the UN. The war reached Beah’s region of Sierra Leone when he was just 12 years old. At 13 he became a government soldier, and wasn’t pulled out of the conflict until he was nearly 16.

To summarize the book’s events any further would only diminish his telling of them, I fear, so I’ll limit myself to effusive praise. It’s very well written, making shocking events accessible. Powerful, humbling, and moving, it’s surely going to rank among the best books I’ll read this year, and have ever read.

Bottom line: highly recommended. As is the above-linked video clip that put me on to the book in the first place.

Next up: The End of Mr. Y. I’m probably 2/3 of the way through it. While reading it on the plane ride back to Seattle my mind started riffing on the title: The End of Mr. Why… The End of Mister Y = The End of Mystery? Hmm.

p.s. happy Leap Year Day!