45 books like A Long Way Gone

By Ishmael Beah,

Here are 45 books that A Long Way Gone fans have personally recommended if you like A Long Way Gone. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Things They Carried

Ellen Birkett Morris Author Of Beware the Tall Grass

From my list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the Vietnam War because my male relatives served and came back changed by the experience. I spent ten years as the editor of The Patton Saber, writing articles about the experience of World War II soldiers, but when I came across an idea for a novel about past life memories, I decided to focus on memories of the Vietnam War. What I love about this list is that it reflects many facets of the war, including soldiers, nurses, veterans, and the family members touched by those affected by war.

Ellen's book list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War

Ellen Birkett Morris Why did Ellen love this book?

O’Brien’s depiction of American soldiers in Vietnam was vivid and moving. It gave me a deeper understanding of the soldier’s experience. His artful use of the metaphor of what they carried revealed not only the items on hand but also the psychological baggage each soldier dealt with.

The stories were haunting and made me a full witness to the complexity of war and the many ways it is experienced. It is artfully written, moving, complex, touching and unforgettable.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Betty Bolte Author Of Becoming Lady Washington

From my list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I “discovered” historical fiction when a teen and have devoured it ever since. When my parents took me to the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina in 9th grade, I realized just how much I enjoyed learning about history in real life. I found that reading historical fiction breathed life into what can be a very dull read, so I wanted to bring history to life with my own words. Visiting historical properties has become a big passion of mine! Every trip I take includes a visit to some historical site or another. I’ve been writing historical fiction/romance/fantasy since the late 1990s.

Betty's book list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women

Betty Bolte Why did Betty love this book?

This story is set in Việt Nam and paints a clear picture of the people who lived there in the 1930-1980 timeframe of the story. The family faced hardships and tragedies, including being separated for several months when they were forced to flee for their lives. One thing I really appreciated was seeing the impact and impressions of the Việt Nam war on the people of that country. My brother fought over there—he was a Ranger in the Army—during that conflict and came home very different. In fact, he’s estranged himself from the family for the past 30+ years. Reading about the conflict from the other side gives me a clearer idea of what he might have seen or done that he never would tell me about.

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Mountains Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Viet Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai's first novel in English.


Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Author Of The Day My Mother Never Came Home

From my list on promoting the power of human healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I experienced severe trauma at an early age in life, which involved numerous challenges that tested my resilience and inner strength. However, through perseverance, self-reflection, and seeking support, I was able to overcome these obstacles and emerge stronger than ever. My experiences have taught me the importance of resilience, the power of healing, and the transformative impact of sharing stories, including the messy ones. I believe that by recommending books that explore these themes, I can inspire and empower others who may be facing similar challenges to find hope, resilience, and a path toward healing.

Reginald's book list on promoting the power of human healing

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Why did Reginald love this book?

I highly recommend this book as it offers a unique and insightful perspective on the complexities of growing up in a world marked by crime and adversity. Noah’s candid storytelling and introspection resonate deeply with themes explored in my book, such as resilience, perseverance, and the capacity humans have for survival.

Through Noah’s journey, readers gain an understanding of the impact of injustices and personal experiences on shaping one's worldview and navigating life's challenges.

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


Book cover of Angela's Ashes

Why am I passionate about this?

My life and work have been profoundly affected by the central circumstance of my existence: I was born into a very large military Catholic family in the United States of America. As a child surrounded by many others in the 60s, I wrote, performed, and directed family plays with my numerous brothers and sisters. Although I fell in love with a Canadian and moved to Canada, my family of origin still exerts considerable personal influence. My central struggle, coming from that place of chaos, order, and conformity, is to have the courage to live an authentic life based on my own experience of connectedness and individuality, to speak and be heard. 

Caitlin's book list on coming-of-age books that explore belonging, identity, family, and beat with an emotional and/or humorous pulse

Caitlin Hicks Why did Caitlin love this book?

Frank McCourt's classic book, the memoir of his childhood, is proof in the pudding that the origin of humor is the suffering of the low-status character. And that’s only one reason why I love it.

He had me at “Above all -- we were wet.” His descriptions of the impossible and undignified conditions of his childhood, where children had absolutely no control over anything and adults were at the mercy of life itself, brought me so close to him that I think I started believing we were actually related and scribbled him into the family tree as a long-lost uncle.

McCourt captures the hapless quality of gullible, unsupervised children let loose on an unforgiving world with a buoyancy that comes through every sentence and rises above the brutal conditions of his childhood. 

And the truth he finds in the details, from the brutality of religious authority figures to the abject…

By Frank McCourt,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Angela's Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author recounts his childhood in Depression-era Brooklyn as the child of Irish immigrants who decide to return to worse poverty in Ireland when his infant sister dies.


Book cover of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

Ryan Smithson Author Of Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI

From my list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an equipment operator for the Army Corps of Engineers, I didn’t serve in a “combat” role, per se, but the engineers go wherever the military needs things built, so we were often repairing IED damage, hauling supplies outside the wire, or fortifying bases so the infantry, cavalry, etc. could do their job effectively. Coming home, I owe a lot of my successful reintegration to my writing and the many people who encouraged me to share it with the world. Now with my Master of Arts in English, I’ve taught college courses on military culture, and I present for veteran art groups, writing workshops, and high schools and colleges around the country.

Ryan's book list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth

Ryan Smithson Why did Ryan love this book?

Grossman is a former Army Ranger who digs deep into the psychological impact of taking human life through countless interviews with fellow soldiers of all kinds. Combining these accounts with thorough psychological research, Grossman comments on society's collective aversion to killing while helping us understand its complicated acceptance—and even encouragement—of wartime killing. What was most surprising to me was that historically, only about 4% of soldiers even fire their weapon during war, and how obviously that skews from the “norm” of combat portrayed in popular media. It’s an honest, eye-opening, and important piece of work that should be required reading for every service member, police officer, or anyone tasked with carrying society’s heaviest burden.

By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked On Killing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young. Upon its first publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a…


Book cover of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Ann Jones’ memoir Kabul in Winter takes the reader inside the lives of Afghan women following the overthrow of the Taliban in the early 2000s. The book includes the necessary tour of Afghanistan’s history taking the reader through major events alongside the more valuable contribution of her time in Kabul. The book’s beauty lies in Jones’ ability to explain the plight of Afghan women in the complex context of entrenched cultural norms and religious beliefs without relying on simplistic Western cliches. We get to understand that there is no easy solution, no quick fix, because the entire society is structured around an uber patriarchy. I loved how her writing didn’t hold back and how her passion shines through along with her anger and despair.

By Ann Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kabul in Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon after the bombs stopped falling on Kabul, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. This is her trenchant report from the city where she spent the next four winters working in humanitarian aid. Investigating the city's prison for women, retraining Kabul's long - silenced English teachers, Jones enters the lives of everyday women and men and reveals through small events some big disjunctions: between the new Afghan "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between American promises and performance, between what's boasted of and what is. At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, "Kabul…


Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Shadow of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…


Book cover of City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Ben Rawlence’s City of Thorns makes the list because of his ability to weave a powerful narrative around the day-to-day lives of refugees living in camps. Far too often our knowledge of refugees is limited to numbers—the number of people who die crossing the Mediterranean, the number living in a camp, or the amount of dollars required to ease the suffering. This book is an antidote to the numbers. Rawlence introduces us to the hopes and challenges of nine residents of what was then the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, Kenya. Unfortunately for the nine, Rawlence’s book covers a period when famine and terrorism hit the Horn of Africa adding another dimension to understanding the plight of the most vulnerable caught up in the vagaries of war.

By Ben Rawlence,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City of Thorns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben…


Book cover of Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Occupational Hazards provides a glimpse into the challenges of rebuilding countries after war. In mid-2003 Rory Stewart joined the British government effort to rebuild Iraq. His time overlapped with my early days but regrettably, operating in different areas, our paths never crossed. While I was focusing on humanitarian assistance and community development, Rory was navigating the politics of Maysan province. Rory is an accomplished writer who turns the prosaic work of governance, such as ensuring local salaries are paid, into an exciting and insightful narrative of the mechanics of running an occupation. Luckily for the reader, Rory isn’t the desk-bound type and as a result, we are taken to the streets of Amara, the reed houses of the Marsh Arabs, and the delicate negotiations between competing factions who are seemingly always only one step away from civil war.

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Occupational Hazards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating insight into the complexity, history and unpredictability of Iraq.

By September 2003, six months after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the anarchy had begun. Rory Stewart, a young Biritish diplomat, was appointed as the Coalition Provisional Authority's deputy governor of a province of 850,000 people in the southern marshland region. There, he and his colleagues confronted gangsters, Iranian-linked politicians, tribal vendettas and a full Islamist insurgency.

Occupational Hazards is Rory Stewart's inside account of the attempt to rebuild a nation, the errors made, the misunderstandings and insurmountable difficulties encountered. It reveals an Iraq hidden from most foreign journalists…


Book cover of Another Day of Life

Anjan Sundaram Author Of Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime

From my list on foreign correspondent memoirs of Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied reporters' memoirs of Africa for my PhD in journalism at the University of East Anglia, under Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. I was fascinated by how foreign correspondents are aided by local reporters, who unfortunately often don’t receive much credit or commensurate pay for their contributions to international news. This inequality is changing, but not quickly enough, and it affects the kinds of news that we all receive, and how western lives, for example, are often respected more than others. 

Anjan's book list on foreign correspondent memoirs of Africa

Anjan Sundaram Why did Anjan love this book?

I promised my publisher, who edited Kapuscinski, a book as elemental, pure, and wild as Kapuscinski's seminal account of the Angolan independence struggle in 1975.

Though I’m not sure I succeeded, Breakup is that book.

I was inspired by this classic of reportage for its simple and profound observations of the city, and countryside, trying to make sense of the chaos and what Angolans, in Portuguese, called confusão.

By Ryszard Kapuściński, William R. Brand (translator), Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand (translator)

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Another Day of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1975, Angola was tumbling into pandemonium; everyone who could was packing crates, desperate to abandon the beleaguered colony. With his trademark bravura, Ryszard Kapuscinski went the other way, begging his was from Lisbon and comfort to Luanda—once famed as Africa's Rio de Janeiro—and chaos.Angola, a slave colony later given over to mining and plantations, was a promised land for generations of poor Portuguese. It had belonged to Portugal since before there were English-speakers in North America. After the collapse of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, Angola was brusquely cut loose, spurring the catastrophe of a still-ongoing civil…


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