50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inside View of a Horrific Event
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.
IT IS NOT A NOVEL!
Dallaire was Force Commander during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and, as...
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by Amazon Customer
4 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please open your eyes...
Does anyone ever question anything they read any more? I agree the book is well written, but everyone seems to be taking the one point of view presented as the only version of events. Read the book, then try reading some articles about the events in question more in depth. Start out with an article written in Saturday Night(a magazine that used to come with the Globe I...
Published on Nov. 23 2004
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Rwandan Genocide,
This review is from: Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (Paperback)
"Shake Hands with the Devil" is a simply amazing book. I first read it having no previous knowlage of what happened in Rwanda. I must admit I didn't even realize there WAS a genocide. I bought this book specifically to find out what happened and I was not disapointed. It gives a detailed account of the entire war, including events leading up to it so the reader can better understand the motives behind the destruction. At times this book can be extremly hard to read (in my opinion at least). There are very graphic descriptions of people being tortured, raped and killed, but it only manages to further illustrate the point that the world messed up the whole situation beyond belief. I would definitly recommend this book to anyone interested in Rwanda. Your money will not be misplaced I promise you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wrenching of the soul,
A most powerful book that will leave you speechless - at the horror, at the incomprehensibility of the Rwandan genocide, as well as at the travails and struggles of Dallaire's UN mission under tremendous odds. The author involves you by his day to day observations, you feel the daily grind of his army life as well as the unique frustrations placed on him by his UN superiors. Yes the Rwandan genocide could have been stopped had he had the manpower and means - how efficiently we will never know. But to have to stand by while people who expected help were butchered, while endless paperwork had to be filed, while the "genocidaires" went freely about their business thumbing their noses at UNAMIR - it becomes clear why many like Dallaire suffered intensely of PTSD - how can one erase the images? They wrench the soul.
Living in Rwanda and being able to associate places and names, listening to people - all of whom were touched by "la guerre" and who lost family - brings the genocide even closer , although there are no more answers now than when Dallaire was there. I do not know how Rwandans can cope, living next door to returned killers whom they perhaps know personally. I do not know how they can look at the bones of those slaughtered and go on tilling the fields, doing their chores, smiling and hugging... But as one Rwandan said to me, what choice do we have but to forgive, we cannot hate for the rest of our lives (he lost his brother and family while he himself hid for three months and so managed to survive). Instead, he has turned his brother's property into a restaurant, where there is music and dancing - he thought his brother would like such a memorial.
When Dallaire came to Rwanda for the ten year memorial celebration, he saw hope among the people again - may he be right. Plus jamais.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ghosts of Rwanda",
By A Customer
On Thursday 4/1/04 I watched a PBS Frontline presentation called "Ghosts of Rwanda".
1] It was a fine show; technically, artistically, ethically, and as history. It was balanced and fair, but appropriately damning to those who "knew but didn't act".
2] It should serve as a chilling reminder of what happens when deliberative bodies (UN, US, Belgium, etc) puff up in rhetorical diplomatic speech, but then cut-and-run. Whithin the US, much of both the Left and the Right seemed uninterested in Rwanda. Though Ghanan and Canadian (Dallaire) UN commanders, and their few personnel, demonstrated superhuman bravery on the ground...I sure as hell would not want to count on the suits at UN headquarters to pull my bacon out of the fire! The UN is no different (and in many ways is worse) than many nation-states. It will be some time before an organization truely exists that reprsents world justice and order. Until then, I'm afraid that individual nations will need to retain sovereignty, if only to ensure justice and order for their own citizens. [DISCLOSURE: I support current US and Israeli actions in Western Asia].
Some of the heros and villains are listed below.
Not listed on the website, but discussed in the show, is an interesting reference made by Madeleine Albright. She claims to have argued for voting to retain some minimal protective UN forces in Rwanda, but was forbidden to so.
The political creature that forbid US support of UN action? The then director of peacekeeping at the NSC, Richard Clark.
800,000 civilans were butchered in 100 days.
No apology required, I suppose.
Watch this show if you can:
Heros and villains:
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!,
As many of the reviews describe, General Dallaire's well-written account of the Rwandan genocide is detailed, devastating and thought provoking on many levels. I highly recommend it for anyone. Period.
In addition to all of the information related to the genocide, there is another layer to his discussions that added even more interest for me. As someone who has never been in the military, I never gave much thought to what it really means to be a soldier. General Dallaire is a career soldier who comes from a family with a military tradition. He is also a very intelligent and thoughtful man who has taken a lot of time to study not only the technical aspects of war but also its philosophical implications. He speaks eloquently about the moral and ethical decisions that are implicit in this profession, and about what it really means to be a soldier. His thoughts have sparked a new interest in me.
I can, in addition, recommend an excellent documentary about his involvement in Rwanda, which is entitled "The Last Just Man". If you liked this book, and I can't see how you wouldn't, try to see the film (it has been broadcast on television).
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inside View of a Horrific Event,
This book was released in Canada several months and I ordered it from Amazon's sister site there (you can get it from them much cheaper and faster, by the way)
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 even an effective mandate from the UN.
Dallaire's coverage of some important issues such as the historic 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 chronicling 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 understanding 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.
In the end, Dallaire is a hero, as are Brent Beardsley and so many others who risked their lives to save the lives of others. And we are fortunate that General Dallaire has agreed to share his story. Perhaps with this book, the international community finally begin to take its obligations seriously. Anguished cries of "Never Again!" followed by inaction will never save the lives of innocent victims.
5.0 out of 5 stars Once again, a dollar short, a day late.,
This book is geniously written, it tells the hard truth, those truths we always hear of when its too late. Someone had to do the research and this author(Being there from day one) has done a fine job. General Romeo Dallaire tirelessly pursued the Rwanda massacres from that first day and has not stopped trying for what could have been stopped before anyone knew of it. If the right governments had listened to him, this General whom they appointed, but turned a deaf ear, we'd never of heard about Rwanda. Reading this angered me, not only did these governments not listen, they knew beforehand, and turned a blind eye. The proof is in, and Dallaire has it all right here in black and white. It's tragic there are so many worldwide events like this that come to us after the fact because they could have been prevented. I strongly recommend reading a book which tells of a coming tragic war with these same Governments, written for the same intention Dallaire spoke up, to stop it before it happens, Read SB 1 or God by Karl Mark Maddox.
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic Rollercoaster of Emotions,
You are immersed in a year of the most extreme human suffering and unbelievable abilities of Romeo Dallaire with his staff and soldiers to continue to engage in their effort in the middle Rwanda's mutilation, rape, murder, massacre (genocide).
This effort in the middle of what is impossible to imagine happening all around them with no help from the world makes you want to scream and cry with anger and extreme sadness at how in "modern" times human beings have the ability to do such things to other human beings.
What is incredible is that Romeo Dallaire could recount this year in his life and retain his grip on life. An amazing insight on how hate, brutality and apathy create human tragedy and make you want to help while truly appreciating what you have.
God bless people like Romeo Dallaire who have the ability to represent humanity in the face of inhumanity, David against Goliath.
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggers the imagination,
This is an amazing book, written by an amazing man. The phrase that can most describe it is "screaming into the void" as Dallaire tried so hard to save a country in a mission that would ultimately fail.
This book is crucial to read and it forces you to reconsider many of your beliefs, and now as we see a similar situation occuring in the Sudan, readers will be shocked to see how it is also being ignored.
Despite the painful failure of his mission, Dallaire is to me a hero and the faults lie not within UNAMIR, but within the beurocracy. He said that he knows God exists because he shook hands with the Devil in Rwanda. I would like to shake hands with Dallaire and thank him because without his sacrifices, things certainly would have been much worse.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most powerful book I've ever read,
I bought this book a few days after it was released and read it within a week. It is an extremely compelling account of a horrific event from one of the few people who tried to stop it. He looked at dead or orphaned children in Rwanda and saw his own young children. He exhorted the UN and the powerful nations of the world to send him a few thousand troops, so that he could save hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. In the end, political calculus was more important to those nations than the lives of almost a million Africans. This book really changed the way I look at the world. Another really good book for exploring the role of politics in refusing to prevent genocide is "A Problem from Hell" by Samantha Powers.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Call for Reform,
Romeo Dallaire's account of his tour of command of the UN Peacekeeping force during the Rwandan civil war and genocide of 1994 is an incredibly detailed document of the failure of the UN's ability to function in this capacity. In charge of troops from Belgium, Ghana, Bangladesh, Senegal and Tunisia, Dallaire found himself working with varying levels of
training, committment, loyalty, and vast communication problems brought on by language barriers.
In addition to struggling with UN red tape to get adequate food and water for his troops, let alone the refugees he attempted to shelter, Dallaire's ability to react to the slaughter around him was tied to committee meetings back in New York. He was told not to take sides, and his patient attempts to negotiate with Tutsi and Hutu leaders while driving back and forth through an ever deepening sea of blood and bodies,
speaks of his bravery and self-control. At one point he gets out of his vehicle and walks through a roadblock to find a Hutu leader in an attempt to stop the violence, and describes hearing guns being cocked all around him.
Hopefully this momentous book will cause the UN to examine its peacekeeping capacities. Currently countries in need, such as Haiti, wait while governments around the world debate who is to take responsibility and whether or not they wish to get involved. Could not the UN develop its own peacekeeping force; multi-national troops that are trained and outfitted together; taught to communicate and on the same page with their current mission? Rwanda is but one extreme example of a system that is not working, as Dallaire sub-titles his book: "A Failure of Humanity."
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Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire (Paperback - Oct. 12 2004)
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