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A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide [Paperback]

Linda Melvern
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2000
Rwanda, 1994: around one million people die in a deliberately orchestrated campaign of murder. For five years, Linda Melvern has worked on the story of this great crime, and this book of investigate journalism is the result. It demonstrates how the great powers ignored clear signs of the coming catastrophe, refused to recognise the genocide when it began, and ignored obligations under international law, specifically the genocide convention. Secret documents leaked from within the UN Security Council prove that the circumstances of the genocide were suppressed or ignored. The author gained access to documents in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, that include the precise details of how international funding was used to pay for the huge quantities of machetes, hoes, razors, and axes which were imported, stockpiled and distributed throughout the country before the genocide began. Not only did the major world powers fail to stop the slide towards genocide, they helped make it possible. The book also contains a detailed account of how the genocide unfolded and tells the stories of two vital eyewitnesses, Major-General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian Force Commander of the UN peacekeepers, and Philippe Gaillard, the Swiss Chief Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only agency to stay behind in Rwanda when the genocide began.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books Ltd; Reprinted edition edition (1 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185649831X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856498319
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"The best overall account of the background to the genocide, and the failure to prevent it. ...I provided the author with information and consulted on some of the chapters; the investigative work is hers and hers alone. She discovered so much that we did not know, and her book remains one of the best sources available" - Maj Gen Romeo Dallaire, Canadian Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda

From the Publisher

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide
‘Quite extraordinary: precise, and yet overwhelming; a fine balance in the face of depravity... Linda Melvern has written an extraordinary account of the Rwanda genocide, and the shocking failure of the West to lift a finger... What Melvern demonstrates so powerfully is that where Western geopolitical interests are absent, Western morality and ‘civilised’ concerns are nowhere to be found ... A brave and compelling book.’ — Professor Richard Falk, Center of International Studies, Princeton University

‘This is a devastating account of lies, deceit, complacency and tragic neglect.... All we can hope is that this fine book will provide lessons for the future, because it provides all of us who lobby and campaign for early warning systems and conflict prevention with invaluable evidence. Looking around the world, you wonder what has been learnt since 1994. Linda Melvern deserves our thanks for investing so much in breaking the silence and revealing the truth.’ — Glenys Kinnock, MEP; Chair, Forum on Early Warning And Early Response (FEWER)

'What happened in Rwanda is one of the most appalling, heartbreaking tragedies that the world has known. Why did it occur? And what more could have been done to prevent it? This serious, very thorough attempt to answer those questions will be essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand what happened. This is a powerful and important book.' — The Right Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford

‘A riveting and well-researched account of the horrendous crimes committed in Rwanda while an indifferent world, to its shame, looked the other way. There are grim lessons here for everyone, from international statesmen and politicians to responsible citizens and decent human beings everywhere’ — Dame Margaret Anstee

'This is a very important book. It is a book that a large number of people should read....what is good about the book is that it shows the big picture. It shows the failure that actually took place. It tells the story of what really happened. An outstandingly good book... ... compelling.....its content is exceptional.' — Colin Keating, Secretary for Justice, New Zealand Ministry of Justice, and former New Zealand Ambassador to the UN

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Rwanda genocide is one of those news stories you think you know, and maybe think you are entitled to forget. Think again. Linda Melvern retells the story of the brutal happenings, of course, but she does much more: she sets out, ruthlessly, the responsibility of all those who felt free to judge and moralise about what happened in Rwanda, what they did not do and, even worse,what they did. Any time you hear a politician, a "statesman" preaching ethics in foreign policy, or denouncing what others do or don't do, remember this shocking and most carefully researched study of how international diplomacy really operates -- how little we've learned to move beyond particular, national interests and understand what is at risk -- and the children who die as a result.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is anyone interested in Rwanda? 22 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Probably, the story of Rwandan genocide is the most shocking international scandal of the post World War II era. The book is a brilliant reconstruction of that time, written with amazing clarity and based on well established facts.
In three months of 1994 about one million people was killed in organised genocide. The killing rate was five times faster than that achieved by the Nazis during WWII holocaust. But on the contrary to the Nazis, the Rwandan genocide happened in the full light of the international media, with the full knowledge of the UN Security Council and the Western governments.
Linda Melvern describes and documents in detail the role of the West in the genocide.
The story is so bad that almost all of the publishers in the UK refused to publish this book with comments like "the story is really too awful" or "I cannot see people forking out money to read about such an unspeakable subject..."
Do you think you can fork out some money for the truth? I think this book is certainly worth any money.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Book 13 July 2004
I am a 14 year old, and, having not started school when this genocide occured, I was intrigued. I got this book from the library having heard a radio report about the 10th anniversary of the atrocity.
I read the book and was astounded, and, at the same time, appauled. The titanic failings of the west are uncovered in this easy to read, yet potent and serious book. A MUST READ!
Don't not buy it if you have visions of graphic depictions of massacre scenes, this fantastic piece of investigative journalism goes into more depth about the failings of western political structures, not into gore.
Buy it, read it, think about it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The author is mindless in broad thinking 13 Dec 2013
By Dr warm
The book provides research from an individual(s) who have not been open minded. It's obvious that only one sided investigation has gone into the research.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read critically 8 Nov 2005
By A Customer
Melvern has used her links with Kagame and his current regime well, and has produced a decent account of events. However, as a result the leanings are inevitably pro-Tutsi. Even when pressed at public lectures off the back of this book the loyalty is very apparent and elements of bias must be considered when reading a retrospective of such political events.

It contains well sourced material but it should not be your only reference and interpretation of events.
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