The Night Wanderers: Uganda's Children and the Lord's Resistance Army

Overview

On an average night in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of children head for the city centers to avoid capture by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). They find refuge on the floors of aid agencies or in the streets. In recent years, the civil society was almost completely destroyed by the LRA, itself made up almost entirely of kidnapped children. Piecing together what has been broken is proving to be a nearly impossible task. Polish journalist Wojciech Jagielski inserts himself into this hellish landscape and ...

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The Night Wanderers: Uganda's Children and the Lord's Resistance Army

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Overview

On an average night in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of children head for the city centers to avoid capture by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). They find refuge on the floors of aid agencies or in the streets. In recent years, the civil society was almost completely destroyed by the LRA, itself made up almost entirely of kidnapped children. Piecing together what has been broken is proving to be a nearly impossible task. Polish journalist Wojciech Jagielski inserts himself into this hellish landscape and finds a way to speak of these children and their wounded world. In The Night Wanderers, Jagielski shows his readers the horror of children who have been abducted from their homes and forced to kill their own family members; children who, even after they have escaped the LRA, carry the weight of their own acts of murder on their young shoulders. Jagielski portrays Uganda through their eyes as well as his own. Carrying on the rich tradition of Ryszard Kapuściński, Jagielski digs himself deep into the Ugandan landscape and emerges with a compassionate, incisive, painful, magisterial account of a world that is just starting to pull itself out of the horrors of war. The original Polish edition of The Night Wanderers is shortlisted for the Nike Prize, considered to be the most prestigious literary award in Poland.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Uganda has been ravaged by civil war, and Joseph Kony's militant Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to perpetrate one of the gravest humanitarian crises of our time—this is the context for this brave, devastating work of war reportage. Perhaps one of the most horrifying aspects of the LRA is that it kidnaps children and uses them as soldiers, forcing them to kill, or, in the case of female children, to become "wives." Renowned Polish journalist Jagielski begins his story in Gulu, in northern Uganda, where he has access to a center devoted to rehabilitating the children who have escaped. In one eerie scene, the children at the center play a "war game" wherein some are cast as "guerillas," some as "soldiers," and others as "the people living in the village under attack." The game is boisterous and innocent enough, but, as Jagielski points out, it is easy to forget that all but the youngest children have killed people. Individual narratives are lent structure by passages detailing the history of Uganda, including an illuminating look at current president Yoweri Museveni. The facts are chilling, and Jagielski handles them with integrity and a minimum of stylistic flourish, treating the subject with the dignity it deserves. Map. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"The Night Wanderers is a balanced union of reflection and reporting, with a fine eye for ironic detail."
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Uganda has been ravaged by civil war, and Joseph Kony's militant Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to perpetrate one of the gravest humanitarian crises of our time—this is the context for this brave, devastating work of war reportage. The facts are chilling, and Jagielski handles them with integrity and a minimum of stylistic flourish, treating the subject with the dignity it deserves.”
Publisher's Weekly

“Jagielski’s moving, beautiful, and winding account of Uganda’s sad history of multiple conflicts leaves one mourning the suffering so many have endured and questioning to what extent the current government can provide long term solutions for the generations who survived.”
—Maria E. Burnett, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch Africa Division

“A disturbing, thought-provoking account of an under-reported and tragic story.”
—Edward Lucas, International Editor, The Economist

“During the 20 years I spent in Uganda I often wondered how Kapuscinsky would describe the situations I saw with my eyes in the country’s tormented North. Reading Night Wanderers, I found the answer. Its pages of great literary beauty carried me to the streets of Gulu and made me meet the formerly abducted children, feel the depths of their pain and awake inside me images, sounds, and smells so long cherished. Jagielski is a master, not only of story-telling, but also of digging into the intimacy of people’s hearts in tragic situations. By taking their side he makes us understand from a unique angle the complexity of politics in one of Africa’s most conflictive regions.”
—Father Carlos Rodriguez Soto, author of Tall Grass: Stories of Suffering and Peace in Northern Uganda

“This is not strictly a journalistic account of war and mayhem; it is something more powerful and lasting: a literary sojourn through an African landscape of haunted horrors, observed with extraordinary patience and empathy by an exceptional writer and reporter. Wojciech Jagielski paints masterful portraits of messianic guerrilla leaders and mad dictators, but unforgettable ones of stone-faced child rebels who have been forced to kill and maim, and in the process have lost the ability to laugh, cry, or even enjoy ice cream.
—Pamela Constable, author of Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself and Fragments of Grace: My Search for Meaning in the Strife of South Asia

"Wojciech Jagielski’s Night Wanderers in not only a bitter story about a forgotten civil war in Uganda, but it is also a literary masterpiece, a reportage in every sense of the word." —Wiadomosci24 (Poland)

"Wojciech Jagielski has already achieved recognition for his reporting on the most inflamed points around our globe. [His latest work] will only confirm his reputation." —Ryszard Kapuściński, on Jagielski’s Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya

"Wojciech Jagielski’s book sets new standards for gritty reporting of Russia’s most miserable corner, and the dreadful damage done to it by both outsiders and the Chechen’s own leaders . . . The book brings to life the danger, squalor and misery of daily life in Chechnya with almost unbearable clarity." —The Economist, on Jagielski’s Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609803506
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,408,947
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

WOJCIECH JAGIELSKI is a reporter at Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s first and biggest independent daily, where he specializes in Africa, Central Asia, the Trans-Caucasus, and the Caucasus. Jagielski is the recipient of the Dariusz Fikus Award and the Letterature dal Fronte Award (Italy) for his book Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya, which Seven Stories published in English in 2009, the first of many collaborative works to come.
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