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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Tonight on TDS, Ishmael Beah, author of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier"  and on TCR, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France winner.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.ussausage grinder of snark

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This is hard to read, and hard to write. Ishmael Beah's book is a memoir, so let me just jump to the PubWeekly review via Amazon:

This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army—in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF and partnering NGOs. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the U.S., where he now lives. (Beah graduated from Oberlin College in 2004.) Told in clear, accessible language by a young writer with a gifted literary voice, this memoir seems destined to become a classic firsthand account of war and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide.

There are quite a few reviews and profiles out there, as well as an excerpt and some other writings by Beah. He's a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken on behalf of child soldiers in several venues, including the recent conference in Paris sponsored by  UNICEF and France's Foreign Ministry.  In a bit of surreality, the book will be promoted and sold in Starbucks (with a donation of $2/book to UNICEF, minimum donation of $100,000). Also, he's modeled Armani in Playboy.

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For a complete change of pace, Lance Armstrong is on with Stephen. Everyone knows him, right? Seven-time Tour de France winner, 10 year cancer survivor (recent anniversary woohoo!), occasional visitor to gossip columns... that's him. He's also run the New York Marathon, been the subject of a variety of cartoons, at least one Onion feature, and an upcoming movie. Also, he's a daddy. But his private life is staying private now, even re:valentine's day fluff features (I can only assume...)

It looks like he's got two ongoing projects right now. On the biking front, he's leading a doping-free team (with Floyd Landis) -- there'll be regular blood tests. There have been a few headlines along those lines in the past few days, as the

I.O.C. officially scolded Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, for comments that might have damaged Armstrong’s reputation.

But I suspect he'd rather talk about his anti-cancer advocacy. He's

concerned that President Bush has proposed cutting funding to the National Cancer Institute for the second year in a row. The cuts would reduce the cancer institute's budget to just over $4.7 billion, a reduction of $36 million, or 0.8%, NCI spokeswoman Aleea Farrakh says. She noted that Congress has not yet set the NCI's final budget.
"The people who want to be president in 2008 should talk about something that kills 600,000 Americans a year," says Armstrong, 35.

As one headline to a commentary by him put it,"Lance Armstrong: Patience running thin with D.C."

This year is the tenth anniversary of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (a.k.a. LiveSTRONG), and Armstrong is currently the chair of its board of directors. I took a look around the website and got all verklempt, maybe especially because my mother is both a cancer survivor and a big Lance fan. But to bring it back to politics, his blog revealed that John Edwards stopped by the Foundation's staff meeting not long ago to chat. So, even though it seems he was on O'Reilly recently, and we all remember the biking trip with Bush, I don't think we should hold that against him. Too much.

 

Originally posted to TiaRachel on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 07:45 PM PST.

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