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September 4, 2007

Former child soldier turned author to present talk about travails of a civil war

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ishmael Beah, whose book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" describes his life as a child solider in Africa in civil war-torn Sierra Leone, will speak at 8 p.m. Sept. 12 in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse at Purdue University.

His lecture, which is part of Purdue Libraries' Distinguished Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. Beah will sign books immediately afterward.

"Our lecture series is a forum for the university and the Greater Lafayette communities to see and hear outstanding authors discuss their work," said James L. Mullins, dean of Purdue Libraries. "Ishmael Beah has a story to tell that is riveting. It is also one that helps to reveal and explain the complexities of world events that are unfolding around us today.

"We're pleased to have this remarkable young man on campus who overcame horrors that no person, let alone a child, should endure. Yet, he's a shining example that there is hope."

Beah was 12 when he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land wracked with violence and bloodshed. By 13, he was forced into the government army. He spent three years fighting and after his release was sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center. He struggled to regain his humanity in the civilian world. 

Beah came to the United States when he was 17. He attended Oberlin College and lives in New York City. He has spoken at the United Nations and before UNICEF leaders. He also has appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," C-SPAN and CNN, and was featured on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air."  "A Long Way Gone" is Beah's first book and became a New York Times best seller, a Starbucks Featured Book and a Borders Original Voices Choice.

The lecture is supported by a gift to the Libraries from the estate of Anna M. Akeley. The Office of the Provost is co-sponsor, and major support is provided by the Black Cultural Center, College of Liberal Arts and Diversity Resource Office.

Previous series speakers include international best-selling author Amy Tan, whose books include "The Joy Luck Club," NASA historian and Neil Armstrong biographer James R. Hansen and Patricia Albjerg Graham, a Purdue graduate who is now a Harvard professor of the history of education.

For more information on the book and author, go online to

Writer: Jim Bush (765) 494-2077,

Source: James Mullins, (765) 494-2900,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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