Monday, July 13, 2009

"The Sack Of Rome" by Alexander Stille, "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah, "The House At Sugar Beach" by Helene Cooper.

A LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
This award winning book was a tough read. Beah's journey from boy soldier to college student at Oberlin is heartbreaking. I have read about the practice of recruiting boys to fight in wars all over the world. This book takes something that you might see on the news for two minutes and personalizes it. The boys as young as seven are given AK47s, drugs and stripped of their childhood. There are various aid organizations, UNICEF, who try to de-program former boy soldiers but it's difficult.

A must read for anyone who is confused by how Berlusconi became Prime Minster given his massive conflict of interest. This book is a not a dry read. Even those with no interest in Italian politics will find it funny and very scary as Italy is just an exaggeration of what is going on in America with the consolidation of media and the domination of celebrity culture. Stille is not anti-Berslusconi and that's what makes this book more damning. How Berlusconi rose to power and how he wields is fascinating. The books covers up to the second time he was elected. I hope newer editions will touch on his current administration. One thing that made me laugh was when Stille wrote about Berlusconi will tell you something that is a straight out lie. He says it with such conviction that Stille said he left a meeting with Berlusconi questioning if 2+2 really equaled 4.

I've been meaning to write about this book for a while. A friend (thanks Susan) gave me this book for my birthday. Helene Cooper is a journalist at the New York Times. She grew up in a very wealthy family in Liberia. When civil war broke out she had to move as a teenager to America. This memoir is a beautiful story filled with both tender, moving moments and some very painful ones. The history of Liberia was always interesting to me. It's an African country founded by freed American slaves. Ms. Cooper was a descendant of two of the founding families. She lived in a 22 room house, with maids, butlers and the family owned a villa in Spain. Meanwhile many descendants of the Africans who were native to the land were resentful. In 1980 rebels attacked, killing and raping members of the elite and taking everything they could. After a near death experience while she was covering the Iraq war, Ms. Cooper decided to finally tell her story. I'm glad she did.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Thanks for the terrific ideas for reading.

erin :: the olive notes said...

oh these sound good...i'm adding some to my reading list. (are you on btw?)

carrieitly said...

Thanks for the suggestions! Adding them to my Amazon Wish List now!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ciao tutti...prego.

Erin, no but I'm on Shelfari.