Paper $19.95 ISBN: 9781783608126 Published November 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781783608133 Published November 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

When the Walking Defeats You

One Man's Journey as Joseph Kony's Bodyguard

Ledio Cakaj

When the Walking Defeats You

Ledio Cakaj

Distributed for Zed Books

300 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016
Paper $19.95 ISBN: 9781783608126 Published November 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781783608133 Published November 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a cultish Christian rebel group operating in Uganda and in other parts of Eastern and Central Africa, has been accused of widespread human rights violations for decades. It has been reviled for its use of child soldiers and sexual slavery, as well as for waging a long campaign of violence and terror across a large swathe of the region. Educated and harboring humanitarian dreams of becoming a teacher, George Omona would thus seem an unlikely recruit for the LRA. And yet, after he was expelled from high school, Omona was caught by the charismatic pull of the LRA’s messianic leader, Joseph Kony, and he came to think that joining the group might be his best chance for rebuilding his life. When the Walking Defeats You is his unlikely and powerful story.
 
Drawing on hours of interviews with Omona, Ledio Cakaj here offers a rare and fascinating insider account of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups. As Cakaj describes, Omona’s education and fluent command of English allowed him to rapidly rise through the ranks and eventually become a personal bodyguard to Kony himself. At Kony’s side, Omona spent almost three years with the group before finally making his escape, and his personal account of those years provides unique, unsettling, and often brutal insight into the inner workings of the LRA as well as the mind of its self-appointed prophet.
 
Review Quotes
Publishers Weekly
“Cakaj renders interview subject George Omona’s story of joining the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda with a somber and assured tone. . . . The book captures the fierceness of infighting within the group and the powerful hold exerted on it by founder Joseph Kony.”
Times Literary Supplement
“What makes this book exceptional are the sections voiced by ‘George’ (names are changed). Cakaj’s real-life protagonist spent three years in the bush with the LRA, much of it serving as Kony’s own bodyguard. He is a doubly useful informant, at once an insider and an outsider, unlike his fellow fighters, he was an educated young townie who joined voluntarily, not a peasant-child from a rural Acholi village, abducted at gunpoint and then forced to kill. . . . George’s unflinching narrative of his experiences—including the murder of unarmed civilians—reads like a particularly dark crime procedural: an account of how to say alive, and even find a measure of belonging, at the heart of a paranoid self-propelled death cult.”
 
LSE Review of Books
“This is a unique and compelling account that effectively intertwines the biographical account of George Omona (fictional name)—a young man who voluntarily joined and fought for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Eastern Congo between 2007 and 2010 before escaping—with the wider narrative of an ongoing conflict. . . . An important addition to the literature on the LRA and rebel groups more broadly.”
 
Michela Wrong, author of Borderlines and It’s Our Turn to Eat
When the Walking Defeats You is that rare achievement: an account of a rebel movement as seen from the inside. Cakaj’s meticulously researched account takes the reader into the heart of one of Africa’s most feared organizations, capturing the mundane brutality of life in the LRA.”
Sverker Finnström, author of Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda
“A heartbreaking story, unmasking the everyday complexities of a most gruesome and sorrowing war. Absolutely remarkable!”
Evelyn Amony, former LRA captive and author of I am Evelyn Amony
“As I read this book, I read my own experiences and what I went through. It is a story that all people should know about: how men, women, and children suffer and survive conflict.”
Erin Baines, University of British Columbia
“Cakaj skillfully takes the reader inside the harrowing world of the LRA. Interspersed with stunning photography and reflections of persons who survived LRA attacks, a multi-layered story comes to life, further unfolding the complexities of such a devastating war.”
Andrew Rice, author of The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget
“A deep and intimate portrait of the daily life of a child soldier. His book deserves to take its place next to books like Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation in the sad catalog of stories about children at war.”
Matthew Green, author of The Wizard of the Nile
“Gripping and gleaming with insight. Cakaj leads the reader into the very heart of one of Africa’s least-understood but most enduring rebel movements.”
Ronald R. Atkinson, author of The Roots of Ethnicity: The Origins of the Acholi of Uganda
“A gripping portrayal of a rebel fighter’s harrowing journey in central Africa. Without pulling punches, Cakaj provides a human face to the notorious but often caricatured Lord’s Resistance Army.  An insightful tour-de-force by an author whose deep knowledge about this group shines through on almost every page.”
Jane Bussmann, author of The Worst Date Ever, or how it took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War
“Of all the books written about the LRA, this is the one that the politicians and diplomats should be reading. Cakaj puts us in the boots of the kids, pawns that nobody on the world stage can be bothered to save, left walking to this day.”
Adam Branch, author of Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda
“Brilliantly weaves the dramatic and often horrifying experience of one man into a gripping story of two decades of the LRA war. A product of vast knowledge of the conflict, When the Walking Defeats You is sure to become a classic in the literature on conflict in Africa.”
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