London, Charles 1980(?)–
London, Charles 1980(?)–
Born c. 1980; married. Education: Graduated from Columbia University, 2002; Pratt Institute, M.L.S. candidate.
Librarian and writer. New York Public Library, Harlem, young adult librarian. Former research associate, Refugees International.
Rolling Stone College Journalism Award, 1999.
One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to National Geographic, Baltimore Times, New Voices, and ReliefWeb.
Charles London was born in the early 1980s and began working for the New York Public Library system when he was still in high school. He continued working there through college, graduating from Columbia University in 2002. In Harlem, London worked in the New York Public Library system's youth outreach program. London has also worked as a journalist, contributing to periodicals such as the National Geographic, Baltimore Times, New Voices, and ReliefWeb. London was a promising journalist at a young age, winning the Rolling Stone College Journalism Award in 1999. London has also worked as a research associate with Refugees International. His work with the organization led him all over the world, through several war-torn areas. While traveling, London interviewed several children and young refugees about their war experiences. Several of these encounters are compiled in London's first book, One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War. A memoir of sorts, London not only records the stories of the young refugee children affected by war and ethnic cleansing, but also his impressions and experiences during his travels. Indeed, London was so affected by his work that he left the aid agency and returned to school to begin working toward his master's degree in library science from the Pratt Institute.
In One Day the Soldiers Came, London speaks with children from places such as Bosnia, Gaza, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, East Africa, Thailand, and the Balkans. Some of the children relate how they were forcibly recruited as soldiers, some were sexually exploited, and some watched as their families were killed in front of them. Despite these horrifying tales, some of the children's lives are improving, and London informs readers of these more recent developments. Critics were almost unanimously impressed by the work. For instance, a Kirkus Reviews critic stated that "readers will never forget the physical and mental damage inflicted upon their developing minds." The critic added: "Never sentimental or patronizing, these are harsh, numbing experiences." The critic concluded that the book is "searing and heartbreaking." Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman was also laudatory in her assessment, stating that the book's "stark accounts" address "the truth: the image of childhood innocence is for the wealthy and the safe." In a Weekend All Things Considered interview, London was asked whether he thought the children he met were doomed to repeat the sins of the past. London responded: "I don't think it's inevitable. Every one of these children I met had the potential to do anything. Ninety-nine percent of the child soldiers I met—the former child soldiers I met—somewhere inside them had a sense that what they've done … was wrong or was not good. They all have the innate capacity for peace and for building a society."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
London, Charles, One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, September 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War, p. 29.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of One Day the Soldiers Came.
News & Notes, November 20, 2007, "War through a Child Soldier's Eyes."
School Library Journal, November 1, 2007, "London's Calling," p. 19.
Charles London Home Page,http://www.calondon.com (June 12, 2008).
Charles London MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/calondon (June 12, 2008).
Weekend All Things Considered,http://www.npr.org/ (October 21, 2007), "Soldiers' Looks at Children of War."