Unfathomable violence is placed before the reader of Allan Stratton’s Chanda’s Wars (2008). And many sadistic actions referred to in the novel have been similarly reported in academic studies of child soldiers. Years of research by Alcinda Honwana have shown that most children were coerced into active wartime participation. As young soldiers they were themselves fi rst brutalized to the point of submission and then forced to brutalize other civilians. Stratton faithfully works this pattern into Chanda’s Wars, yet his novel misrepresents the wartime exploitation of children. Chanda is the appealing protagonist from Chanda’s Secrets (Stratton’s novel about AIDS from 2004), and in the new work she barely survives an international confl ict that includes the kidnapping of her young brother and sister. In modern African wars, children as young as six years have been abducted, and when they were too young to be frontline combatants they became servants of combatants in a variety of ways. But there is a secondary story threaded through the novel, one that broadly indicts Africa in relation to traditional beliefs and customs, governmental malfeasance, and child abuse at the hands of close family members. Chanda and others are suffering as a result

of such dysfunctions and cultural bankruptcy before they are presented to readers as the traumatized victims of war.