“That is not true … 1995 was the period when Ishmael got involved in the conflict,” Mr Williams told The Australian in a telephone interview yesterday.
Mr Williams said he was not surprised by what he believed were the inaccuracies in Beah’s account because the traumatic adolescence of the child soldiers meant “a lot of us do not know our own childhoods”.
The publisher, however, may need to take some blame for another, far less forgivable, error:
Beah, according to his own account, spent at least 10 months wandering between villages before reaching the relative safety of the village of Yele in Bonthe district, only to be recruited by the soldiers occupying the town.
A map that has appeared at the front of Beah’s book in its many reprints — more than 650,000 copies are in print and a new soft-back edition is about to be released in Europe — shows that trek as a winding, 1000km route between Mattru Jong and Yele, about 450km to the southwest.
But the map is deeply flawed. In fact, Yele is just 6km southwest of Mattru Jong.