First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army

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Chicago Review Press, 2009 - History - 300 pages

?Richard Opio has neither the look of a cold-blooded killer nor the heart of one. Yet as his mother and father lay on the ground with their hands tied, Richard used the blunt end of an ax to crush their skulls. He was ordered to do this by a unit commander of the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that has terrorized northern Uganda for twenty years. The memory racks Richard's slender body as he wipes away tears.”

For more than twenty years, beginning in the mid-1980s, the Lord's Resistance Army has ravaged northern Uganda. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered, and thousands more mutilated and traumatized. At least 1.5 million people have been driven from a pastoral existence into the squalor of refugee camps.

The leader of the rebel army is the rarely seen Joseph Kony, a former witchdoctor and self-professed spirit medium who continues to evade justice and wield power from somewhere near the Congo~Sudan border. Kony claims he not only can predict the future but also can control the minds of his fighters. And control them he does: the Lord's Resistance Army consists of children who are abducted from their homes under cover of night. As initiation, the boys are forced to commit atrocities?murdering their parents, friends, and relatives?and the kidnapped girls are forced into lives of sexual slavery and labor.

In First Kill Your Family, veteran journalist Peter Eichstaedt goes into the war-torn villages and refugee camps, talking to former child soldiers, child ?brides,” and other victims. He examines the cultlike convictions of the army; how a pervasive belief in witchcraft, the spirit world, and the supernatural gave rise to this and other deadly movements; and what the global community can do to bring peace and justice to the region. This insightful analysis delves into the war's foundations and argues that, much like Rwanda's genocide, international intervention is needed to stop Africa's virulent cycle of violence.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - booklog - LibraryThing

Outstanding look at the "inside story" of the internal war in Uganda. Its genesis and continuance are in the search for power and the lack of concern for victims of violence. The perpetrators (on all ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - verka6811 - LibraryThing

While much attention has been given to the situations in Darfur and Rwanda, the 20-year-long war in Uganda has gone on unacknowledged. In 'First Kill Your Family', journalist Peter Eichstaedt's goal ... Read full review


Richards Story
1 Faded Luster of the Pearl
2 The Lips Are Not There
3 Anatomy of an Attack
4 God Grace and the Aboke Girls
5 Witch Doctors Rattles and Unholy Ghosts
6 A Game of Blood and Spiritualism
7 The Arrow Boys
10 The Call for Peace
11 Armed Conflict Is a Helth Risk
12 In Search of Joseph Kony
13 Jungle Rendezvous
14 The View from Kilimanjaro

8 Degrees of Darkness
9 Back to the Land

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About the author (2009)

Peter Eichstaedt is the Africa editor for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting in The Hague. He is a veteran journalist who has reported from locations worldwide, including Slovenia, Moldova, Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, and Uganda, and a former senior editor for Uganda Radio Network. He is the author of If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans.

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