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).