enator Romeo Dallaire entered into the mainstream public fora with his award-winning book Shake Hands with the Devil, a compelling and heart wrenching personal account chronicling his time as Commander, United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It was here where he first articulated chilling accounts of his encounter with child soldiers. Today, the use of child soldiers remains prevalent throughout the world, and They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children provides an insightful, and, at times, a brutal account of an evil that continues to plague humanity.
Dallaire uses a unique blend of fiction and non-fiction within this book to convey his message of eradicating the use of child soldiers. While this combination of fiction and non-fiction is meshed together somewhat awkwardly, the fiction tends to evoke an emotional response connecting facts with fiction, thereby evoking powerful images, and, in turn, solidifying the message in the conscience of the reader. The chapters dedicated to how a child soldier is made, trained, and used are equally as thought provoking as they are disturbing. Of note, Dallaire highlights that approximately 40 percent of all child soldiers world-wide are girls, as girls are often considered more valuable than boys being used for everything from sex slaves, to cooks, to combatants. The emotional and psychological effects upon professional soldiers encountering, and, at times, killing child soldiers, also fictionalized in the book, are equally vivid and disheartening. Dallaire righty highlights the intense moral dilemmas present in professional soldiers if and when required to kill child soldiers, and he legitimately questions how long professional soldiers can engage in such acts before their ‘brains fry.’