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

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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).


About Daniel Bergner

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Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of three books of nonfiction, including The Other Side of Desire; In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa, which was selected as a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; and God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Redemption in Louisiana's Angola Prison, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Published September 9, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 229 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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There are many in his narrative who would argue otherwise, from homegrown politicians who believe that one day Sierra Leone will be a paradise to which “the rich will come, the poor will come, the middle class will come” to white mercenaries who love the entire business of war, such as one South ...

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