Introducing the 2014-2015 Common Reading Experience
The 2014-2015 academic year marks the sixth annual Common Reading Experience. The University of Kentucky continuously examines its efforts in improving new students' transition to campus and retaining them through a fulfilling collegiate experience. The Common Reading Experience is meant to support those efforts through campus-wide intellectual programming. The book selected for this year's program is Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone.
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About the Book A Long Way Gone:
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah tells a riveting story on how he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he had been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and finally, to heal.
About the Author Ishmael Beah:
Ishmael Beah, born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The book has been published in over thirty languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007. Time magazine named the book as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2007, ranking it at number three. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vespertine Press, LIT, Parabola, and numerous academic journals. He is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War; a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Advisory Committee; an advisory board member at the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; visiting scholar at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University; visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University; cofounder of the Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW); and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation. He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and many panels on the effects of war on children. He is a graduate of Oberlin College with a B.A. in Political Science and resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Author Photo © John Madere
Praise for A Long Way Gone:
"Everyone in the world should read this book. Not just because it contains an amazing story, or because it's our moral, bleeding-heart duty, or because it's clearly written. We should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human."
- Washington Post
"His honesty is exacting, and a testament to the ability of children "to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance."
- The New Yorker
"What Beah saw and did during [the war] has haunted him ever since, and if you read his stunning and unflinching memoir, you'll be haunted, too . . . It would have been enough if Ishmael Beah had merely survived the horrors described in A Long Way Gone. That he has written this unforgettable firsthand account of his odyssey is harder still to grasp. Those seeking to understand the human consequences of war, its brutal and brutalizing costs, would be wise to reflect on Ishmael Beah's story."
- Philadelphia Enquirer
Connect with Ishmael Beah:
For more information on Ishmael Beah, his books, videos, press, and interviews, visit his website.