4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2007
It is perhaps unfair to write a review of a book one hasn't finished, but I'm currently stuck on page 102 where Tutsi nurse Valerie Nyirarudodo says, "They (the Swiss nurses taken away by UN forces) left us their advice and their supplies of porridge. But since we had never seen them prepare it, we did not know how to eat it." 95% of the nurses and patients in the hospital were subsequently murdered by machete-wielding Hutus before they starved to death trying to figure out how to cook oatmeal.
Now, either 1) the author made this up.
2) nurse Nyirarudodo made this up and the author believed her.
3) nurse Nyirarudodo and her colleagues and patients had the collective intelligence of a doorknob.
I rule out #3 (though the author apparently doesn't), so I'm stuck with #1 or #2.
So the author is either a liar or a fool.
Theodore Dalrymple (whom I greatly admire) and Susan Sontag (to me a handful of bird gravel) both insist that we read this book. I hate to think it, but Dr. Dalrymple reviews books professionally and it's highly unlikely that he read this one with attention. Sontag, I couldn't care less one way or the other.
Before I got to page 102 I was uneasy with (among other things) the translation. Very odd and choppy, just like the ten dear Hutus we get to know. It can't be all the author's style. Perhaps Doc Dalrymple read the French original? Otherwise I'm sure he would have mentioned the crappy rhythm, even if he'd just skimmed through.
Anyway, if it has never occurred to you that mass murderers eat and sleep and joke and act nice when it's in their interest to do so, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, it's not worth the effort of plowing through this awkward and absurd book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2006
This account of the killers of Rwanda is simply electrifying. There are no words to describe the horror that was Rwanda, but here 10 perpetrators give their account over 200 pp, testifying to the banality of evil and the mentality of serial killers.
Let me simply the first line of this testimonial:
"During that killing season we rose earlier than usual to eat lots of meat, and we went up to the soccer field at around nine or ten o'clock. The leaders would grumble about latecomers, and we would go off on the attack. Rule number one was to kill. There was no rule number two. It was an organization without complications." (10)
In our day and age, of _CSI_ and _Law and Order_ we are led to believe we understand the psyche of mass murderers. We are used to hear screen killers confess. But that's all fiction.
Here though, is the real thing. Genocide explained, in its starkest, most horrifying terms.
I have never read anything as powerful or as deadly.