Book Review: To Stop a Warlord
My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace
The first chapters of this book were so challenging emotionally that I nearly had to put the tome down. It covers the actions of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerilla group that terrorized Central African countries for a quarter century, displacing two million people, killing more than 100,000, and stealing children, whom they forced to become soldiers and sex slaves. Author Shannon Sedgwick Davis is an attorney and activist who heads up the Bridgeway Foundation. Its goal? Ending mass atrocities. In this memoir, she chronicles the pursuit of Kony and how he was rendered powerless.
The book is made even more poignant with two additional throughlines. One is the life story of David Ocitti, kidnapped as a child by the LRA and transformed by his eventual homecoming. We also flash to Davis’s family life, where she has two snuggly, tiny sons. Working parents everywhere will relate to her grief from being away from them, doing her perilous job, while knowing that “doing the work I felt called to do was the best way to show up for my boys. … How could I expect them to live as their full selves if I was not fully being who I was created to be?”
Ultimately, the book is about restorative justice and the methods that finally brought down Kony: bringing LRA soldiers home and reintegrating them into society, crumbling his organization with so many defections. The former soldiers had to be offered dignity, physical and legal security, seeds to start new civilian lives. In this story, the best tools to end suffering turn out to be open arms.