When Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he thought he was heading off to Africa to help two warring parties achieve a peace both sides wanted. Instead, he and members of his small international force were caught up in a vortex of civil war and genocide. Dallaire left Rwanda ...
When Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he thought he was heading off to Africa to help two warring parties achieve a peace both sides wanted. Instead, he and members of his small international force were caught up in a vortex of civil war and genocide. Dallaire left Rwanda a broken man; disillusioned, suicidal, and determined to tell his story. An award-winning international sensation, Shake Hands with the Devil is a landmark contribution to the literature of war: a remarkable tale of a soldier's courage and an unforgettable portrait of modern warfare. It is also a stinging indictment of the petty bureaucrats who refused to give Dallaire the men and the operational freedom he needed to stop the killing. 'I know there is a God,' Dallaire writes, 'because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.'
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This first hand account of the genocide of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994 in 100 days is very disturbing. It's true that the world saw what was happening and just changed the channel. That was because this was happening in Africa, especially in a country that had nothing to offer of strategic or resource value. If the same thing had been happening in Europe or North America, it would have been met with a swift response. But instead, it was ignored as 'tribal warfare'. Soon after, General D'Allaire became the scapegoat of all that had gone wrong in Rwanda, although he saw it coming and had been warning the world and begging the UN for more resources. I must say that there were at least four especially gruesome events that I read that I wish I hadn't. They stayed in my mind much longer than I would have liked. I wish I would have realized before I finished the book, that there was a glossary at the back. It would have helped me differentiate the Bizimana's from the Bizimunga's and the RPG from the RGF. Overall, a necessary book to read if you are a true citizen of the world. Unfortunately, the final conclusion General D'Allaire comes up with is "Never Again." Wishful thinking, unfortunately, since the same thing has been said many times since the Holocaust.
Apr 3, 2007
The book is the very personal account of General Romeo Dallaire's experiances in Rwanda. Generaol Dallaire was the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda in 1994 at the time of the genocide. I read this book in record time an then re-read it. There are parts that drag; most of them are his background of his life. The body of the book moves along though. This book is very detailed and precise and laid out in chronological order. His accounts of an officer totally alone and without support is devastating. You can feel his fustration and wonder how maddness did not take him over. He held his men together after the international community refused to help and infact took much needed troops and supplies from him. This is not an easy read yet to anyone interested it is well worth it. I also have to note the bibliography of this book is a treasure trove of interesting material.
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