Synopses & Reviews
A chilling, beautifully written narrative of African war
Sierra Leone is the world's most war-ravaged country. There, in a West African landscape of spectacular beauty, rampaging soldiers--many not yet in their teens--have made a custom of hacking off the hands of their victims, then letting them live as the ultimate emblem of terror. The country is so anarchic and so desperate that, forty years after independence, its people long to be recolonized. And the West wants to save it.
In the Land of Magic Soldiers follows both a set of white would-be saviors--a family of American missionaries, a mercenary helicopter gunship pilot, and the army of Great Britain--and also a set of Sierra Leoneans, among them a father who rescues his daughter from rape, loses his hands as punishment, then begins to rebuild his life; a child soldier and sometime cannibal; and a highly Westernized medical student who claims immunity to bullets and a cure for H.I.V.
A story of black and white, of the First World and the world left infinitely behind, of those who would nation-build and those who live in a land of fire and jungle, In the Land of Magic Soldiers is an unforgettable work of literary reportage by "a terrific reporter with a novelist's eye" (Peter Applebome, The New York Times Book Review).
"This is a compelling book that puts human faces on a conflict that has burst into international headlines." Vernon Ford, Booklist
"Remarkable...First-class reporting and storytelling...A memorable, scarifying portrait of a country in terminal turmoil." Kirkus Reviews
"Short, astonishing, unsettling...A remarkable book, full of piercing images and brilliantly observed details." Jill Laurie Goodman, Chicago Tribune
"Bergner...demonstrates a deft dramatic touch. He all too vividly recreates the violent rebel advance on the capital....Despite his thorough research and narrative flair, Bergner falls into the journalistic travelogue's trap-his commentary tells the reader more about the journalist than about the place visited." Publishers Weekly
In the Land of Magic Soldiers follows a set of white would-be saviors and also a set of Sierra Leoneans. A story of black and white, of those who would nation-build and those who live in a region of fire and jungle, this is an unforgettable work of literary reportage by "a terrific reporter with a novelist's eye" (New York Times Book Review).
An Los Angeles Times
Best Book 2003
In Sierra Leone, rampaging soldiers have made a custom of hacking off the hands of their victims, then letting them live as the ultimate emblem of terror. The country is so desperate that, forty years after independence, its people long to be recolonized.
In this book, the acclaimed author of novelist and journalist follows a set of Western would-be saviors and a set of Sierra Leoneans, who take us into a land of beauty, horror, resilience and redemption. From mercenaries to missionaries, child soldiers to parent fugitives, Bergner tells this racially charged story with sensitivity and precision, creating an unforgettable work of literary reportage.
About the Author
The author of Moments of Favor
and God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Rendempiton in Louisiana's Angola Prison
, Daniel Bergner
has written for Harper's, Talk,
and The New York Times Magazine
. He lives with his family in New York City.