Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, in the year 1980. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Vespertine Press, LIT, Parabola, and a number of academic journals. He is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War; a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Advisory Council; an advisory board member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence; a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Center for International Conflict Resolution; and a visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence. On the effects of war on children, he has addressed the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and several panels. His book A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Child Soldier was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007 and has been translated into over thirty languages.
The book was ranked third among the top ten nonfiction books of 2007, according to Time magazine. Ishmael Beah earned his B.A. from Oberlin College. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and lives in Brooklyn, New York.