Synopses & Reviews
Ida, a member of Sri Lankas Female Tamil Tigers, fought with one of the longest-surviving and successful guerilla movements in the world. She is sixteen. Francois, a fourteen-year-old Rwandan child of mixed ethnicity, was forced by Hutu militiamen to hack to death his sisters Tutsi children.More than 250,000 children have fought in three dozen conflicts around the world, but growing exploitation of children in war is staggering and little known. From the little bees” of Colombia to the baby brigades” of Sri Lanka, the subject of child soldiers is changing the face of terrorism. For the last seven years, Jimmie Briggs has been talking to, writing about, and researching the plight of these young combatants. The horrific stories of these children, dramatically told in their own voices, reveal the devastating consequences of this global tragedy.Cogent, passionate, impeccably researched, and compellingly told, Innocents Lost is the fullest, most personal and powerful examination yet of the lives of child soldiers.
"Briggs does not lack for material an estimated 10% of the world's fighting forces is under 18 or real empathy for the subject, but his intention to make visible a 'tragedy hidden in plain sight' often fails. In part, that's because some stories are so gruesome, it is difficult to keep one's eyes on the page. Many sections move too quickly for readers to get to know the children or the places they live. In other spots, Briggs's research-heavy drill of acronyms and statistics is numbing. The exception is the chapter on the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, in which Briggs, a Life journalist, stays with the brutal story of the army's kidnapping of a dormitory of Catholic school girls. The attention on a single episode and deft rendering of an Italian nun, forced to choose which of her students would stay with the army and which would be released, brings the horror of child warriors and the conditions that create them into focus. Otherwise, the loose collection of research, notes and interviews, including a chapter on the first American soldier killed in Afghanistan that is only partially related to the topic, offers neither a crafted narrative nor a meaty exploration of the politics of war or the failure of humanitarian intervention." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Briggs has put himself into many dangerous situations to gather his material, but he insinuates himself and his own traumas a few times too many in the course of his narrative." Kirkus Reviews
For readers of Philip Gourevitch, David Rieff, and Samantha Power, a sober, vitally important book on the global tragedy of child soldiers
About the Author
Jimmie Briggs, a freelance journalist, was awarded the John Bartlow Martin Award from Northwestern University for a story about the Gulf War's impact on children, which became a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He has written for the Washington Post, the Village Voice, Emerge, Vibe, LIFE, and the New York Times Magazine. He lives in New York City.