This semifictional account of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army paints a bleak picture of northern Uganda, where Kony’s rebellion has scarred the population and corroded the Ugandan army and state. The book’s main character is a young boy who escaped from Kony’s army and is now in a rehabilitation center. Abandoned by his relatives, the boy has few prospects and multiple murders on his conscience. Jagielski tells the story in an affecting manner, although he offers no new insights into the methods Kony’s officers use to transform young boys and girls into killers. He is more interested in describing how the conflict has destroyed the sense of community in a desperately poor region and perverted the relationships between children and adults. He also reflects on the highly ambiguous nature of the conflict, suggesting some degree of complicity between the Ugandan army and officers in Kony’s group and tracing the hostility of northern populations toward the regime of President Yoweri Museveni to its roots in the 1980s, when Museveni came to power and repressed the remaining pockets of support in the north for the previous regime.
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