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Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda [Paperback]

4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inside View of a Horrific Event Oct. 27 2003
I feel compelled to write a review of this book, even though I have not finished reading it quite yet. I am currently on page 311, but decided to write this mostly to counter the completely illogical review from Victoria Taylor Murray, who clearly has not read this book.
Dallaire was Force Commander during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and, as such, is able to provide the first insiders view of the collapse of the Arusha Accord, the subsequent resumption of hostilities between the RPF and the RGF and the rapidly unfolding genocide.
General Dallaire spends much of his book discussing his attempts to implement the Arusha Accords and, when that failed, to secure a cease-fire and protect innocent civilians. He also chronicles his frustrations with some of the troops sent to assist in the peacekeeping mission and the trouble he had getting money, supplies or an effective mandate from the UN.
Dallaire's coverage of some important issues such as the Hutu-Tutsi rivalry, the role of the Interhamwe in the genocide or the US role in preventing more forceful action are cursory - but, in fairness, they were not intended to be the focus of this book.
Dallaire has done the world a great service by sharing his experience nearly a decade after his life was upended, and 800,000 Rwandan lives were lost, in one of the most horrific humanitarian tragedies in history. And while this book is a great value to those who have a relatively deep understand of the genocide, it might not be the best introduction for those who know little or nothing about it. Dallaire provides a great amount of detail, but not necessarily the elementary background and big picture views required to understand just who was involved and what was transpiring during this chaotic 100 days.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 85,000 Feb. 9 2005
In this book Dallaire remembers an official from a Western nation remarking that 85,000 Rwandans would have to die to justify the death of one soldier from his country.
Dallaire conveys the crushing sense of responsibility he continues to feel for failing to protect the 800,000 who died in Rwanda, but that weight flows through him to the reader as each of us bears blame in the failure of humanity he describes. This book forces a wrenching change of world view.
Dallaire's writing is natural and simple. Though some scenes are disturbing, he doesn't rely on gore to exact an emotional response. It's important to read this book.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who do not remember the past ... Feb. 19 2005
The subtitle says it all: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. To call it anything less than that is a slap in the face to those who perished in the worst genocide since Pol Pot's "Killing Fields".
Gen. Romeo Dallaire's book is a wake-up call to the fact we still haven't learned anything. George Santayana, way back in 1905, warned the world that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In excruciating detail, the general recounts one of the most harrowing experiences in recent memory and the fact that the world turned a completely blind eye to this latter-day Holocaust. Surely, Dallaire suggests, the world should have known what was to come after the assassination which started the calamity.
By far the most chilling recollection is his conversation with someone who told him that it would take the deaths of at least 85,000 to even consider sending ONE peacekeeper from that country. 800,000 wound up dying. To think that but for the presence of just 10 American soldiers the massacre could have been stopped is not only chilling but demonstrates the incredible amount of racism that still pervades some quarters within the US government -- and even the US media, which gave scant at best attention to this tragedy.
Dallaire concedes that the American serviceman who was killed in Mogadishu and dragged through the streets in the now infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident a few months before may have given the Pentagon cold feet about Africa.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
I read this book with the eye and mind of a professional intelligence officer long frustrated with the myopia of national policy constituencies, and the stupidity of the United Nations Headquarters culture. General Dallaire has written a superb book on the reality of massive genocide in the Burundi and Rwanda region in 1994, and his sub-title, "The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" is where most people end up in reading this book.
I see things a little differently. I see this book as a massive indictment of the United Nations culture of "go along gently", as a compelling documentary of how ignorant the United Nations is about impending disasters because of its persistent refusal to establish a UN intelligence secretariat as recommended by the Brahimi Report, and as a case study in how the Western nations have failed to establish coherent global strategies--and the intelligence-policy dialogues necessary to keep such strategies updated and relevant.
According to the author, 15 UN peacekeepers died--over 800,000 Rwandans died. The number 15 is not larger because Belgium, Canada, and the US explicitly stated that Rwanda was "irrelevant" in any sense of the word, and not worth the death of a single additional Western (mostly white) soldier.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very disturbing. Hard to understand at times but so ...
Very disturbing. Hard to understand at times but so much information that is important for us to know of and pay attention too.
Published 1 day ago by Genie
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit of Rwanda
Excellent writing considering the brevity of the subject and I highly recommend. It begins with a brief look at the Dallaire history and then moves forward to Mr. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Glenda Fowlow
5.0 out of 5 stars A Canadian hero who tells it like it is
This man could write a book about wind and i would buy it.A Canadian hero who tells it like it is.
Published 1 month ago by l price
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Glad I read this, but sort of ashamed of my country as they did nothing to stop it
Published 3 months ago by William A. Bolduc
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
There are lots of books out there by the survivors of genocide but this book gives insight into the muddy politics and propaganda that can lead a country there and also a greater... Read more
Published 8 months ago by bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly The Best Book Every Written
Possibly the best book every written about the Rwanda genocide. Romeo Dallaire knows how to keep you glued to his story, partially because it's all real and the mind can't... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nate
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read.
This book is an excellent piece of non-fiction that explains in depth just what happened in Rwanda. I pray that we can avoid ever having this hatred reproduced and repeated.
Published 15 months ago by Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading This Book Changed My Life
This book was a real eye opener for me. When I finished it, I immediately ran out and got all the books I could on the suggested reading list inside, and then got even more on the... Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2010 by Xena Torres
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT BOOK
A very thorough and moving glimpse into the Rwandan genocide. I met Mr Dallaire at UBC in Vancouver once and he signed my copy, he seems likes a very warm man but is obviously... Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2010 by P. R. Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.
This is by far one of the most interesting and informative books about any world event that I have ever read. Read more
Published on April 21 2009 by Dick Winters
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