In the Land of Magic Soldiers

A Story of White and Black in West Africa

Daniel Bergner

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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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).

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In the Land of Magic Soldiers
ONEThere is a place where the bend in a path--just that, a slight curve in a narrow strip of mud--can produce an ache, a longing, a bending of the heart. Within the jungle on either side stand the cotton trees. Twelve stories high, their monstrous trunks fan out toward the earth in giant buttresses, forming the walls of strange rooms. To step inside those chambers, to have the massive growths enclose you, to lean with your feet on the spongy ground and your back to the cool damp bark, with almost all the sounds of the world absorbed by the misty air and the immensity

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Reviews

Praise for In the Land of Magic Soldiers

"Daniel Bergner is a brave man and he has written an extraordinarily good book here, a compendium of surreal horrors, vastly improbable characters and very fine writing. Those who have illusions about Africa will find little comfort here; in fact, they will find some passages unbearable, and curse Bergner for daring to examine the heart of darkness in his subject and in himself. But these things should be heard, because there is no way forward unless we stare at the truth long and hard enough for the path of salvation to be revealed. Mr. Bergner has done this for us in the insane jungles and slums of Sierra Leone. His eyes are clear, his pen is true, and his book is a truly valuable addition to the canon of post-colonial African literature."
–Rian Malan, author of My Traitor's Heart

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About the Author

Daniel Bergner

Daniel Bergner is the author of two previous works, Moments of Favor and God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Redemption in Louisiana's Angola Prison, and has written for Harper's, Talk, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives with his wife and two children in New York City.

Daniel Bergner

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Available Formats and Book Details

In the Land of Magic Soldiers
A Story of White and Black in West Africa
Daniel Bergner

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
September 2004
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466803633
ISBN10: 1466803630
224 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
October 2004
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312422929
ISBN10: 031242292X
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 224 pages
$17.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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