The #1 international bestselling author and former General who commanded the UN forces in Rwanda tackles the harrowing subject of child soldiers
In conflicts around the world, there is an increasingly popular weapon system that needs negligible technology, is simple to sustain, has unlimited versatility, and an incredible capacity for both loyalty and barbarism. What are these cheap, renewable, plentiful, sophisticated, and expendable weapons? Children.
Romeo Dallaire's stated aim - in this book and in the campaign that accompanies it - is to eradicate the use of child soldiers.
As commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, Dallaire was tasked with achieving peace, but he and his force found themselves caught up in a vortex of civil war and genocide. Dallaire left Rwanda a broken man, disillusioned, suicidal. He told his story in the award-winning international sensation Shake Hands with the Devil. But he also came away with a mission.
“In the Rwandan civil war, which developed into the infamous genocide of 1994, I was confronted with child soldiers. I saw them, heard them, faced them down, and ultimately confronted them in the midst of a carnage that swallowed their youth and my professional warrior ethic. They, the once-children in unknown villages on the top of the thousand hills of Rwanda were real, determined, deadly, and somehow camouflaging the incredible fear they must have been repressing in the constant presence of death.”
In They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, Dallaire provides an emotionally daring and intellectually enlightening introduction to the child soldier phenomenon, as well as concrete solutions for its total eradication.
In the same personal and impassioned tone that characterised Shake Hands with the Devil, he speaks up for those without a voice -- the children who do not choose to fight, but who through ill-fate and the accident of birth find their way into soldiering.
Dallaire is trying to move mountains of indifference, and one of the most striking ways he does this is to weave into his account of the state of play regarding child soldiers (mostly focused on Africa, but not ignoring the drug trade in favelas, the far east…everywhere they are used) his own recreation of a fictionalised encounter between himself as a soldier and a child soldier. He recreates the life of this child before recruitment (perhaps better thought of as entrapment), through the process by which the child is turned into a soldier, and up to the moment (told from the child’s and his own point of view) when soldier and child soldier face each other and the adult kills the enemy combatant, who turns into a child when dying…and the moral crisis that provokes in the adult. After the fatal encounter, Dallaire leads the reader into his Child Soldier Initiative (supported by his own NGO alliance, and by two Canadian universities).Dallaire's first book also arose from his life in the military.
“Dallaire's sorrow and anger is impressive. The object of this book is to promote and publicise his Child Soldier Initiative. Reading it is tough, but so are the lives of children who are forced to kill”
“Part mea culpa, part manifesto, part appeal for the reader's support, the book is a rallying call for those whose common humanity is affronted by the image of children brainwashed, bullied and exploited into becoming killing machines”
“Do you kill children who kill? Romeo Dallaire's heart-shredding They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children examines that question in relentless, exhausting detail. The case for more muscular, moral intervention in foreign lands could hardly be better made than it is here”