First Kill Your Family: Child Solders of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army

Peter Eichstaedt, Author
Peter Eichstaedt, Author . Lawrence Hill $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-55652-799-9
Reviewed on: 11/17/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009

Eichstaedt (If You Poison Us ) offers a heartfelt if sometimes lopsided look at the consequences of prolonged civil war. Northern Uganda has been under siege by the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, for 20 years, leading to death tolls rivaling those in Darfur, Sudan, which has garnered considerably more media attention. The LRA is known for employing brutal techniques, including mutilating community members who inform on them, kidnapping children to serve as male child soldiers or female “brides,” sex slaves for rebel soldiers. Interviewing victims of these crimes, as well as perpetrators, government officials and non-governmental actors, Eichstaedt weaves a story of a decimated culture caught between merciless violence and the chaos of refugee camps. The result is a close analysis of this underreported crisis, which has only recently shown signs of abating. However, some of Eichstaedt’s conclusions seem uninformed at best, including his one-sided look at religious views in Uganda, which prompt his remark, “There is no moral center of gravity here, no spiritual compass that one can hold against the horizon to escape the clamor and chaos.” (Feb.)

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