OVERRIDE

In the Land of Magic Soldiers

A Story of White and Black in West Africa

Daniel Bergner

Picador

A Los Angeles Times Best Book

In this chilling, unflinching, and beautifully written narrative, Daniel Bergner journeys into the heart of the world's most war-ravaged country: Sierra Leone. A land of spectacular beauty, of vine bridges across jungle rivers and white lilies in radiant swamps, Sierra Leone has been torn apart by a decade of civil war. It is a society ruled by terror, plagued by corruption, and defenseless against disease.

In the Land of Magic Soldiers tells the stories of a group of native Sierra Leoneans: a father who rescues his daughter from rape, loses his hands from punishment, and then begins to rebuild his life; a child soldier (and sometime cannibal) and the priest who tries to help him; and a highly Westernized medical student with an immunity to bullets and a cure for HIV. Interwoven with their stories are those of the would-be saviors: a family of American missionaries who make their home in a tiny village as the war overruns them; a mercenary helicopter gunship pilot who thrives on the fighting he tries to end; and the army of Great Britain, committed to intensive intervention in a country that is so anarchic and desperate that, forty years after independence, its people long to be recolonized.

A story of white and black, of the First World and the world left infinitely behind, of those who would nation-build and those who live in a realm of fire and jungle, In the Land of Magic Soldiers is an unforgettable work of political 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

"[Bergner] has undertaken a huge, ghastly task, and his book is so beautifully written that you will not pull away from it...Bergner describes what is magical and what is malign in Africa as well as anyone ever has." --The Los Angeles Times

"An eloquent witness...[Bergner has] a journalist's eye for the telling moment." --The New Yorker

"The strength of [Bergner's] spare and evocative account is his gallery of characters, whose stories weave through the book and at times intersect with one another...A reminder of the potential [for killing and healing] that we all carry within us." --Adam Hochschild, The New York Times Book Review

"Astonishing, unsettling...A remarkable book, full of piercing images and brilliantly observed details."--Chicago Tribune

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Daniel Bergner

  • 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.
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    In the Land of Magic Soldiers

    A Story of White and Black in West Africa

    Daniel Bergner

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    Picador

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