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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

8 ratings

As with any book about genocide, expect brutality and episodes of depravity. Gourevitch tells these

If you love history and don't know the story of Rwanda then this is the book for you.


I thought I knew enough about the Rwandan genocide in the 90s from watching the news media but after reading this book I realized was wrong. This was heart-wrenching to read.

We Wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed.... Is chilling and should be required reading

This book is not not a comfortable read, but I could not put it down. The author apparently did a lot of research and gives a lot of history about Rwanda which helps, somewhat, to understand why the murderous tirade began. I am ashamed that I was glued to the television in 1994 absorbing every detail of the OJ Simpson trial but was totally unaware of this genocide of neighbor killing neighbor in Rwanda. Why wasn’t this blasted out on the news everyday until our leaders took notice and stopped it.... Other books on this subject written by survivors should be read also. Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza is outstanding, as is My Father the Maker of Trees, byEric Irivuzumugabe, and a book titled A Voice in the Darkness.

A great book about genocide, politics and humanity

Henry Kissinger was once asked why he invested so little time on Latin American diplomacy. His response was a sarcastic echo of Hitler's justification for the annexation of Czech Sudetenland: "South America is a dagger aimed at the heart of Antarctica." And so it is with Rwanda, relegated to the interior of continent that is a geopolitical second-class citizen. At the same time Americans were building a museum to memorialize the Jewish Holocaust in World War II, our government, along with the U.N. bureaucracy and most of the rest of the world, was washing its hands of the blood in Rwanda. Here is an exceptional piece of both political reporting and literature that brings light to a dark corner of modern history. If you're thinking about reading this book, I urge you to look at the reviews. Listen to what the readers are saying, the unanimity of feeling. It's so rare to see a review site where not one person trashes a book. And yet this book is so moving and powerful, I think it would take cynicism to the point of inhumanity to deny its impact. I had read Romeo Dallaire's "Shake Hands with the Devil", which is a harrowing first-person account of the events in Rwanda. Dallaire was the commander of the woefully understaffed U.N. "peacekeeping" force, a force that could do little more than bear witness to the genocide that was unfolding around them. But if you have to read one book about Rwanda, it should be Peter Gourevitch's "We wish to inform you..." It is not only difficult to put down because of its narrative force, but starting from the personal stories of genocide witnesses he is able to zoom out and see the larger picture in which the rest of the world is complicit. As Gourevitch observes, if what happened in Central Africa happened in Europe, it would have been considered a World War. Why were we so oblivious in the West? Are all men created equal? To say it's a "must read" book really doesn't do it justice. You're denying yourself something important if you don't read it.

"A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic

As Joseph Stalin stated: "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." I picked up Gourvitch's book on my way to Rwanda. I was sent on a humanitarian medical mission to help the government upgrade what was left of a ravaged, dilapidated, central hospital's medical system. This book was my first read during my two week stay in Rwanda/Kigali. Unnerving, I was reading it while I sumptuously dined at the only five star hotel. I just finished my meal when I got to the part where Gourvitch mentions that it was at this hotel that scores of killing and atrocities occurred. Distressing. Later, the next weekend, after I finished the book, I went to a hotel disco and the dance floor was full of Hutus and Tutsis dancing together. Very bizarre, for my Western mind to grasp, considering that just eight years ago 99.9% of those on the dance floor witnessed violence, 79.6% experienced death in their family and 57.7% watched the gore of killing or maiming with machetes. Not to mention how many were victims themselves or how many were perpetrators. In this outstanding book, Philip Gourvitch lays it all out, and it is brutal and gruesome. His writing is forceful and forthright. He directly indites the U.S. and Europe, citing their deliberate indifference to the genocide. He writes, "Rwanda had presented the world with the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews, and the world sent blankets, beans and bandages ... hoping that everyone would behave nicely in the future.? Especially damning is France's complicity with the Hutus. There are a few areas of shortcomings. The lack of an index and noticeable is Philip Gourvitch remiss to lay any blame at the door step of any of the African nations for their disengagement. Also, if you selected this book, hoping to have a rational and sane answer for how and why this insanity happened, how 1,000,000 people could be hacked to death by friends, family, teachers, physicians and coworkers in 100 days; you will come away empty handed. But, this is not a shortcoming of Philip Gourvitch book. For there can never be adequate explanation for such demonic decimation. The genocide of Rwanda, the base brutality, the inhumanity, the cries and pleading prayers of the victims and the vacuum of morality and compassion have made these actions uncircumscribible.Finally, this book should be read in several sittings. The despairing denseness of the inhumane acts are too heavy to be comprehended without breaks, ie "Hutus young and old rose to the task. Neighbors hacked neighbors to death in their home and colleague hacked colleague to death in their work place. Doctors killed their patients, and school teachers killed their pupils.?. Highly Recommended.

Africa my Continent Why?

IN the province of Kibungo, in eastern Rwanda, near the Tanzanian border, there's a rocky hill called Nyarubuye, with a church where many Tutsis were slaughtered in April 1994. A year after the killing, I flew to Nyarubuye in a United Nations helicopter, low over the hills in the morning mists, with the banana trees like green starbursts dense over the slopes. The uncut grass blew back as we dropped into the centre of a parish schoolyard. A lone soldier materialised, and shook our hands with shy formality. I stepped up into the open doorway of a classroom. At least 50, mostly decomposed cadavers covered the floor, wadded in clothing, their belongings strewn about and smashed. Macheted skulls had rolled here and there. The dead looked like pictures of the dead. They did not smell. They did not buzz with flies. They had been killed 13 months earlier, and they hadn't been moved. Skin stuck here and there over the bones, many of which lay scattered from the bodies, dismembered by the killers, or by scavengers - birds, dogs, bugs. The more complete figures looked a lot like people, which they were once. A woman in a cloth wrap printed with flowers lay near the door. Her fleshless hip bones were high and her legs slightly spread, and a child's skeleton extended between them. Her torso was hollowed out. Her ribs and spinal column poked through the rotting cloth. Her head was tipped back and her mouth was open; a strange image - half agony, half repose. I had never been among the dead before. What to do? Look? Yes. I had come to see them. The dead had been left unburied at Nyarubuye for memorial purposes - and there they were, so intimately exposed. I didn't need to see them. I already knew, and believed, what had happened in Rwanda. Yet looking at the buildings and the bodies, and hearing the silence of the place, with the grand Italianate basilica standing there deserted, and the beds of exquisite, death-fertilised flowers blooming over the corpses, it was still strangely unimaginable. All this is common In Africa. But Why? Please buy this book

A required text for the 21st century

In early May 1994 I stood on a bridge over the river that forms the border between Rwanda and Tanzania and observed corpses floating down towards Lake Victoria in an unbroken stream. As I write this, two Rwandan women are taking the unprecedented action of suing the United Nations for its failure to intervene in the worst act of genocide since WW2. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who played a kay role in UN decision-making in 1994, has confessed the UN's "failure" and expressed his own "deep remorse." 800,000 people died, most of them hacked to death with machetes by their neighbours. How this happened, and how the world utterly failed in its self-appointed role to prevent exactly such a holocaust, is the subject of this beautifully written, accessible and compelling book. Gourevitch wants to know WHAT happened, and through interviews with survivors, gives us the clearest and most comprehensive understanding I have yet seen. It is not pretty reading, although Gourevitch's dispassionate and sensitive writing makes it possible to get through material that in coarser hands would be impossible to stomach. He also describes the HOW. For years it was evident to the West - and most particularly to France and Belgium - that Hutu factions were gathering their strength to strike at the Tutsi minority. Every day Hutu radio stations ran violent anti-Tutsi propaganda, in which Tutsis and any moderate Hutus who were not interested in killing them were warned to prepare to die. When the killing began, it was simply the next logical step in a process that had long been underway. The case seems impossible to refute - indeed, the UN's internal investigation which published its report in December 1999 does NOT refute - that the genocide was both broadly predictable, and could have been ameliorated, if not altogether stopped, by effective international intervention. The legal knots the UN allowed to create for itself, so that "blue-helmets" felt they could not act to save a woman being raped and hacked to pieces, because their mandate allowed for only their own self-defence, are just one example of how international law can - sometimes - ENCOURAGE crimes against humanity. The lessons of Rwanda, painfully learnt, will influence the way the so-called "world community" responds to massive ethnic eruptions for a generation to come. To begin to understand this most painful event in recent human history, this book cannot be too highly recommended. If there is one small niggle, it is the lack of an index, something that I hope will be addressed in future editions.

Gourevitch props our eyes open to the decimation of Rwanda.

WE WISH TO INFORM YOU THAT TOMORROW WE WILL BE KILLED WITH OUR FAMILIES Stories from Rwanda Philip Gourevitch Farrar Straus, Giroux $25.00 356 pp.In 1994, the Hutu majority in Rwanda committed genocide upon their minority countrymen, the Tutsi. 800,000 people were killed in 100 days, three times the rate of Jewish dead during the Holocaust. In April, while British husbands rushed off with umbrellas to their jobs, Hutu husbands picked up machetes and killed their Tutsi wives. In Germany during May, dancers gyrated to ubiquitous techno-rock, while the leading pop singer in Rwanda urged his Hutu countrymen over the state-sponsored radio to "Kill the cockroaches-"the Tutsis. As the Kiwanis met in Des Moines in June, neighborhood "work groups" of Hutu men and women gathered to go over "hit lists" prepared by the government. During the time it took you to read the above, at least five Tutsis were killed, day by day, week by week, through July.And not a single foreign government or international agency intervened.Why bother? After all, isn't this an "age-old animosity between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups," as the NEW YORK TIMES stated. Haven't they been committing atrocities against each other for centuries? Aren't those poor refugees in the news from Zaire as much victims as the victims in Rwanda?No, no, and emphatically no, replies Philip Gourevitch in this book, selected by the NEW YORK TIMES as one of the year's ten best books of 1998. Until the Belgians issued identity cards during their colonial rule, no formal delineation between the two tribes was common, let alone violent. The "superior" Tutsi myth was simply a repetition of the incredibly specious Hamitic myth, that claimed the Tutsi were "nobler," "aristocratic" primarily because they had more refined, i.e., Caucasian-like features. No massacre had ever occurred prior to one incident in 1959. Those "refugees?" If they were in a camp outside Rwanda, they were one of the 2 million Hutu that fled . when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front re-took the country. In other words, they could easily have been killers, not victims. One by one, Gourevitch demolishes those conventional myths with which the rest of the world deflected their responsibility.But he does more than that. Like Leontius in Plato's REPUBLIC who, upon seeing a pile of bodies, ran to them opening his eyes wide with his fingers, crying "There you are, curse you, have your fill of the lovely spectacle," Gourevitch rushes to unimaginable places. Once there, filled with both desire to see and disgust at the sight, Gourevitch puts down prose which props our eyes wide open to the horror of Rwanda, past and present.In a bar one evening, he meets an aid worker who speaks of stepping on the dead to help the living. Later in his travels, but earlier in the book, Gourevitch visits the scene of a massacre, a church now kept as a shrine. A member of his group steps on a skull, off
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