A footnote to the Voice cover story, which probed the veracity of some of Ishmael Beah’s claims, in the celebrated memoir “A Long Way Gone”: Beah describes an incident in which six teens were killed in a brawl in a refugee camp after two rival factions of child soldiers were placed in the same area.
The Voice reported that UNICEF, the celebrated relief organization, did what it described as a “preliminary investigation” and could not independently confirm that the incident took place.
The Voice then asked Beah’s publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, whether this disclosure would lead to a change in the book or a disclaimer of some kind.
Jeff Seroy, a spokesman, replied, “Doesn’t ‘preliminary” suggest that it’s not conclusive?”
The Voice followed up, making the point that had such an incident taken place, UNICEF would have fully investigated it.
Without directly answering the question about the brawl, Seroy replied “I don’t know enough about UNICEF to say what they would have done…Their statement clearly describes the book as a “credible account” and their investigation as “preliminary.”
The saga continues.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 31, 2008