They Fight Like Soldiers

I received this book as a Valentine’s Day gift from KK. I know it doesn’t seem like the most romantic pick, and you’re probably right, but ever since I read Shake Hands With the Devil, this book has been on my reading list.

An Honest Review:

This book was an incredibly challenging read. Thank goodness my daughter was with her Dad while I read the more difficult sections of the book, because it would have been emotionally devastating to look at her while I read about the abductions of children, the abuse, and the destruction of childhood. Although, I was sitting on my front porch one day while I was reading this book, and I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude while I was listening to the kids in my neighborhood play. It made the impact of They Fight Like Soldiers a little bit more blunted.

I’m a pretty emotional player, so there’s no turning back when you read a book like this. Romeo Dallaire takes a giant step as an author by recreating a fictional story about a child soldier, and also of a peacekeeping soldier. Romeo did such an amazing job of taking me out of my safe bubble, and into this world of manipulation and abuse that is so foreign to me. You could feel his passion for the Child Soldiers Initiative jumping off of the page.

I told my parents that I was reading this book and they said things like “you shouldn’t be reading that difficult of a book”, “you’re too innocent”, and “this book is way too intense for you”. They were very wrong. I’m so thankful for this book for opening my eyes to this tragic life that so many kids are living every day. Child soldiers are a tool used by these radical groups because they create a level of shock and awe to their rivals. The only way to neutralize this tool is to minimize their effectiveness in war. If you’d like to get involved, Romeo Dallaire is one of the founders and advocates of the Child Soldiers Initiative which is a non-government organization focused on the eradication of child soldiers. 

What I Learned:

I learned a lot while reading this book, but I think it is best summed up by a passage in this book referencing an African concept which plays on the Golden Rule:

“…the essence of being human, the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation, that you, too, are humiliated and diminished when others around you are humiliated or diminished. All of these ideas inspire individuals to look beyond themselves to others; to take personal responsibility for the larger social good; to act on the ethical obligation we have to our neighbor; to assist in building the means to advance this quest to protect the peace and humanity of all human beings.”

My Favorite Quote:

This quote is actually a reference made in the book by John Kon Kelei who works with NYPAW:

“The reason why we believe that change is possible is not because we are idealists but because we believe we have made it, so other people can make it as well.”

Bucket List:

  • Encourage a child to follow their dreams

Related Reads:

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Ishmael wrote the foreward for this book, which is so suited as he is a survivor of the abuse the horrors of being a child soldier. I really look forward to reading Ishmael’s story first hand. I know it will be a difficult story, but I truly think that these stories need to be heard and we need to end the ignorance in the west to the pain that’s being inflicted on the children of war-torn countries – they’re our future.

Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass – In a society where crowd-funding and humanitarianism is a new norm, I think that it’s an asset to gain more knowledge of how these initiatives create change or solutions.

The Other by Ryszard Kapuscinski – “The Other” was a term coined by European imperialists to describe individuals of other races and cultural backgrounds. Our world is getting smaller every day, and it’s important to understand the history behind the divides in this world. The better we understand why these divides were created, the better job our generation can do to mend and eliminate it.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela – This book has been on my to-read list for such a long time. To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Nelson Mandela, but Romeo Dallaire piqued my interest again when he spoke about the changes that Mandela made in forming the African National Congress Youth League, and his encouragement of radical methods to have the voice of his people heard.

Murder Without Borders by Terry Gould – Terry Gould provides us with insight to the dangerous work of reporters to deliver the truth. These days politics are censoring the information we’re receiving, and this amazing group of individuals risk their lives every day to make sure that the repressed have a voice, and the ignorant hear about what is going on in the world outside of our bubble.

Book Credit:

Dallaire, Romeo. (2010). They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers.  Random House: USA.


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