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Review: First Kill Your Family (Eichstaedt)

Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 out of 5
Challenges: POC, Social Justice (Child Soldiers)
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book and read it on my Kindle
Summary (from Publisher's Weekly): Eichstaedt 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 [led by Josef Kony], 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 females 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. 

Review: I haven't read a book on my Kindle in SO long, but I am really glad I got myself back onto it. Also, this is the final book for the Social Justice Challenge, which means I've finished 15 of my 16 challenges for 2010. 

While I liked most of this book, there were a few things that I had trouble with. The author discusses religion throughout the book, which is fine as it plays an important role in Josef Kony's actions, but i feel he isn't very receptive to the Ugandan's native religion. Fighting in the name of any religion just seems so wrong, but to judge the beliefs isn't right. The other complaint I have is that the book goes back and forth in time and place, including a lot of information about the events in the surrounding countries. While this is important information and surely plays a role in the Ugandan atrocities, it got confusing at times.

Overall this book is really interesting and covers such an important topic. Josef Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army have been waging war against the people of Uganda for 20 years. They have definitely lost power and strength recently, but they are still kidnapping, mutilating, and controlling areas of the north. This book covers the atrocities, the stealing, the peace talks, the efforts by regular Ugandans as well as military and government leaders to end the violence, but somehow it just doesn't stop.

Throughout the book I just wanted someone to march into the jungle, set up peace talks and kill Josef Kony when he showed up (which he didn't always do). I am not a violent person by nature, but what this man and his followers do is just so despicable! There are moments in this book that are graphic, so if you read it be forewarned. The interviews with victims, their families, and those who work with victims are graphic. However, I think that's a good thing because their experiences were horrible and to sugarcoat them would do them a disservice.

Reading this book also helped me to confirm my belief that starting up a non-profit to help the schools in northern Uganda is the right thing. I really hope that Turn the Page Uganda can make a difference once we're up and running (and we are so close)


Athira said...

I need to read up on your Turn the Page Uganda initiative. Wishing you success! This book sounds good, and you aren't alone, when I read about characters like Josef Kony, I wish them hell and start imagining someone giving them a taste of their own medicines.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--So glad I am not alone in wishing ill on horrible people (and usually I am such a nice person!). I'll be posting more about Turn the Page Uganda soon as we get our non-profit status