Part One


Honestly, I liked the way that Gourevitch wrote this book. His narrative style made me feel as though someone was experiencing the horrors of the genocide with me as opposed to the other books written by the other scholars such as Suny and Snyder who just stoically recount a really gory, graphic depiction of starving to death or of an endless gang rape, and somehow expect the reader to easily transition into a discussion of Ottoman or Soviet politics. However, with Gourevitch, I felt as though I could sense his heavy spirit as he walked through the memorial of the unburied dead at the Nyarubuye church, and it was really comforting and that he was shaking his head and saying, “What the fuck?” when the international community looked the other way and then tried to rationalize their actions using the stupidest rationales possible.

Though the accounts are not as graphic as I thought they would be, the terror displayed in the stories of the interviewees is palpable. I couldn’t imagine driving down the street in my hometown of Ellicott City and the only thing playing on the radio is genocidal propaganda propagated by a jeering, sadistic host while staring at bloody, mutilated corpses. Or even running for my life through the wilderness trying to get to safety because I know that the government has just gone to shit and that I need to get the hell out. That thought just scares me to death. One thing that I noticed was that the genocide affected all Tutsis from social backgrounds. My initial thought before reading this book was that only lower-class Tutsis were killed or exposed to the killing, but through Gourevitch’s inclusion of Odette Nyiramilimo’s story—she was a doctor for the Peace Corps—I discovered that Tutsis from all backgrounds were at risk and while they had means to bribe their Hutu soldiers in order to spare their lives so they could reach safety, they still faced the same dangers as lower-class Tutsis. Nevertheless, I do wish that Gourevitch had included an account of someone who had been attacked and survived the genocide because those included in the book just seem as though they survived because they had good connections and I feel as though the lack of diversity in the accounts causes the reader to miss important perspectives.

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