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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda [Hardcover]

Philip Gourevitch
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Mar 1999
An account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity. It chronicles what has happened in Rwanda since 1994, when the government called on the Hutu majority to murder the Tutsi minority. Some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that give the book its title. The author descibes the anguish of genocide's aftermath: mass displacements; revenge and the quest for justice; and impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (26 Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330371207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330371209
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 485,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

"Hutus kill Tutsis, then Tutsis kill Hutus--if that's really all there is to it, then no wonder we can't be bothered with it," Philip Gourevitch writes, imagining the response of somebody in a country far from the ethnic strife and mass killings of Rwanda. But the situation is not so simple, and in this complex and wrenching book, he explains why the Rwandan genocide should not be written off as just another tribal dispute.

The "stories" in this book's subtitle are both the author's, as he repeatedly visits this tiny country in an attempt to make sense of what has happened, and those of the people he interviews. These include a Tutsi doctor who has seen much of her family killed over decades of Tutsi oppression, a Schindleresque hotel manager who hid hundreds of refugees from certain death, and a Rwandan bishop who has been accused of supporting the slaughter of Tutsi schoolchildren, and can only answer these charges by saying, "What could I do?" Gourevitch, a staff writer for the New Yorker, describes Rwanda's history with remarkable clarity and documents the experience of tragedy with a sober grace. The reader will ask along with the author: Why does this happen? And why don't we bother to stop it? --Maria Dolan, Amazon.com


"[It is the] sobering voice of witness that Gourevitch has vividly captured in his work."—Wole Soyinka, " The New York Times Book Review" "[Gourevitch] has the mind of a scholar along with the observative capacity of a good novelist, and he writes like an angel. This volume establishes him as the peer of Michael Herr, Ryszard Kapuscinski, and Tobias Wolff. I think there is no limit to what we may expect from him."—Robert Stone "A sobering, revealing, and deeply thoughtful chronicle."—"The Boston Globe" "The most important book I have read in many years . . . [Gourevitch] examines [the genocidal war in Rwanda] with humility, anger, grief and a remarkable level of both political and moral intelligence."—Susie Linfield, " Los Angeles Times" "Shocking and important . . . clear and balanced . . . the voice in this book is meticulous and humane."--Michael Pearson, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" "Astonishing . . . [Gourevitch] is masterful at pl --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An excellent history of Rwanda's 1994 genocide told by the author, a journalist for the "New Yorker" magazine, but including a large number of personal accounts. If a book about this horrible salughter doesn't make you feel ashamed then it shouldn't be published. This one works, brilliantly. It is also more up to date than other books on the Rwanda crisis in that it includes descriptions of the Rwandan Patriotric Army's forcible dissolution of the refugee camps in Zaire in 1996. This is a period which supporters of the RPA tend to have problems with. Gourevitch is certainly one of those supporters but he tackles the issue head on. The most haunting passages of this book, which live in the memory, are the personal recollections of loss and survival in the genocide. Having spoken to many survivors myself I know how difficult it is to retell those awful stories without destroying their immediacy and horror, but Gourevitch manages this perfectly. I would urge anyone who is thinking of reading this book to do so, but would encourage them to look at Fergal Keane's masterpiece, "Season as Blood" as well. For the full tragedy, fear and anger, Keane is the better guide.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book must be read 1 July 2001
By A Customer
...This book was written by a journalist and does not claim to be an academic history of Rwanda during the genocide. It's concerned more with the reasons individual people did what they did rather than a clinical reporting of facts. Its account of the complete failure of the International community to respond in an even partially adequate fashion coupled with its insights into the minds of the Rwandan people - both Hutu and Tutsi - before and after the genocide make it an absolute must read for anyone who really wants to know what happened in Central Africa over the past 10 years. That Philip Gourevitch is also a brilliant writer is just one more reason to buy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone 25 Dec 2000
By A Customer
An excellent account of a horrifying event in history, and an indictment of the Western powers which stood by and did nothing.
The book is accessible and brillianty written, and despite its topic it does not crush the spirit. Gourevitch chronicles chronicles every extreme of good and evil, form the priest who refused to help a group of desperate Tutsis, saying "you must die, God no longer wants you", to the Hutu hotel manager who risked his life and saved a thousand refugees armed only with a few friends in high places and a drinks cabinet to bribe the genocidal soldiers.
The book is a work of journalism, and people who want a comprehensive and fully referenced academic work may want to look elsewhere, and at times the author does perhaps treat the RPF too uncritically, but these are minor complaints.
As a document of genicide, and as an insight into the dark side of the human soul, this is almost the equal of Primo Levi's "If This is a Man"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome 16 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Two things stand out from Gourevitch's excellent analysis of Rwanda's turmoils - two things which are quite chilling. One, when he talks about why the international community did nothing to halt the genocide, he refers to Rwanda's strategic importance as being no more important than that of Mars, then corrects himself to say that Mars is actually of greater significance in the mind of Bill Clinton. Two, he tells of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself a black African, visiting Rwanda after the genocide and chiding his audience for allowing themselves to be thought of as "stupid blacks" by the world, such was the senselessness of the slaughter - and in doing so, Tutu implies that this is in fact his own view. Gourevitch presents a powerful picture of what happened, which gives us interesting food for thought on how peoples can and should live together - and what the consequences are if they do not.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shaming of the West 8 Mar 2005
This book is extremely powerful. I came to it after a personal recomendation and after seeing the equally powerful Hotel Rwanda. Although not ignorant of the genocide in central Africa, it had nestled in the back of my mind, along with other disasters, atrocities and tragedies across the 15 years I have been a sentient observer of these things.
I think it is vital that people understand what happened in Rwanda. I think it is important that people realise the capacity of man to bring devestation and horror to fellow man. But perhaps most shockingly people in the West should realise just how callously the foreign policy of their countries is carried out. The Realpolitik of genocide, with Chinese trade, French support for the Francophonie (dead Tutsis don't speak English), US unwillingness to risk another Somalia and the stalling and prevarication of the UN all add to the sheer anger and frustration that one feels when reading about this.
A must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing account and truly heart wrenching 1 Nov 2010
By Reedz
This book is one of the greatest books I have ever read. Gourevitch tells the account of the atrocities in Rwanda with amazing eloquence and some the most evocative and beautiful prose. The nature of the atrocities are beyond words but Gourevitch tells this story with amazing lucidity and takes you right into the middle of the bloodshed, pulls your head back and screams at you to look at what is happening in front of you.

Gourevitch makes this story so real and so raw it is often difficult to read at times. I had to put the book down several times because its so horrific, heart wrenching and personal. I read this book for the first time about 5 years ago and as a practitioner of international human rights law this is still one of the most insightful and realistic accounts of genocide i have read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb value of money
I dont mind 2nd hand books at all as long as it is readable. this book is in a very good condition. delivery is fast as well.
Published 3 months ago by vivi
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank assessment of a very difficult and often misunderstood conflict
The book was a required reading for a course I was taking on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Conflict, and while I can fully understand why this book can be regarded as suitable for... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ryan Ó Giobúin
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected condition for a used book.
Even though it came in the condition that was explained, I was still surprised it was in such good condition. A thought provoking read!
Published 8 months ago by Ashleigh Haydock-Symonds
2.0 out of 5 stars Not objective
It becomes apparent pretty early on that this is a"white colonialism causes all of Afric's problems" polemic. Read more
Published 12 months ago by johnboy
5.0 out of 5 stars We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our...
I was extremely pleased with the book I ordered from this dispatcher. It arrived well within the allotted time and was in excellent condition. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by Holly R. Humphries
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
concise, informative, and written beautifully. this book is incredibly readable despite its' subject matter. i want everyone to read this.
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by rosie
5.0 out of 5 stars an astonishing book
It has been one of the most interesting book I ever read. A tale of the worst genocide since the second world war rigorous and emotional.
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by Marco Gulisano
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Account of the Rwandian Tragedy
Many books have been written in recent years describing events within the Rwandian atrocity but this is the first and least biased account so far, that includes the nuances and... Read more
Published on 1 July 2010 by N. M. Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it
In a dream world, all journalism would be this good: the sentences are simple and clear, the facts come piling in, and there are interviews on nearly every page. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2009 by James Blackman
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book to start understanding Rwanda with
This is undoubtedly the best book to read in order to understand the events of and leading to the genocide in 1994. Read more
Published on 22 July 2008 by R. Rees
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