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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 8 September 1999
If you want to read about the most brutal and least disguised genocide since the Second World War, then this is the book for you. The opening chapter, consisting of a precis of Rwandan history leading up to the genocide, is the best such guide that I have read, and I doubt that it will ever be bettered. After this the book describes the journey that Keane, and his colleagues, took into the heart of the horror in 1994. I have worked on Rwanda for a little while now, and I have seen a little of that horror myself. But Keane's descriptions of the experiences of the Survivors (and of the far more numerous dead) made me feel that I was hearing the stories for the first time. We all become a little jaded from time to time, and a degree of mental toughness is good in life, but occasionally we need to be reminded of the extent of loss that events like this genocide involve. Not simply the loss of life, but the loss of trust, the loss of hope and the loss of "humanity" as a component of people's characters. 1994 was a bad year for humanity, in all its senses, and "Season of Blood" reminds us of that with evident anger, compassion and shame.
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on 22 June 2008
I've read several disparaging remarks about Fergal Keane, the author, and his works as a journalist and presenter. People have called him arrogant and narcissistic but I beg to differ. Keane's account of travelling through a country undergoing genocide and war; his visits to a UN refugee camp in Tanzania and their journey through Burundi to get to government-held areas in the South of Rwanada is written with honesty, sensitivity and insight. Far from "narcissistic", Keane asks questions of everyone around him and gives a fair amount of insight into the lives of the RPF soldier, Frank Ndore, who escorts them for much of their journey and the Ugandan drivers who risk everything to take them on their journeys. He also asks a fair amount of questions of Interahamwe and government soldiers, giving us a glimpse of their reasoning and the ways in which the evil was perpetuated.

This is the fourth book Ihave read on Rwanda and I have a fifth lined up already. I would start with Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza or An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina but I would definitely say this is an important book to read.
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on 29 November 2015
An excellent first-hand account of the horror of the genocide in Rwanda which accounted for nearly 1million deaths of Tutsis by the Hutus. Fergal Keane hasn't minced his words in this book and it comes from his own experiences in the field so to speak. The descriptions of the victims injuries at times require a strong stomach but to gloss-over or fail to describe what these poor souls suffered, men, women, children, babies - no one was safe from the Hutu machetes, would be an injustice to them all. This was a well-planned attack and the Hutus knew well in advance what was going to happen when people who were friends and neighbours for years were suddenly called upon to do their duty and erase the Tutsis from the face of the earth.It highlights the high level of corruption in the country and Keane isn't afraid to criticise the UN in New York but equally he praises individual UN Force members who worked with BOTH their hands tied behind their backs, with a mandate which turned them into voyeurs of violence.They were ordered NOT to intervene on any account between the two tribes and this inaction by the UN undoubtedly cost hundreds of thousands of lives.Nothing changed even when some Belgian troops were also murdered and with the problems NOW with IS in Syria and the UN's failure again to take any decisive action it raises the question of exactly WHY they exist and WHAT use they are?
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on 30 June 2005
This is an excellent beginner's guide to the story of the Rwandan genocide told in bite-sized chunks of elegant prose. For those that wish a deeper understanding of this awful footnote in humanity's history it musy be read in conjunction with other titles such as those by Daillaire and Gourevitch.
The author did witness the horiffic aftermath of the genocide but no real attempt is made to give the reader a deeper undestanding of these events. A beautifully written page turner but ultimately unenlightening. Like watching a CNN report of 9/11 - you will be glued to it but you won't learn much.
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on 6 November 2007
This is a powerful and disturbing book; it is so much more than a description of a terrible episode in human history. The book traces some of the history of the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi and the fact that this was not the first period of ethnic cleansing. The role of the Belgians in using the Tutsi's as an elite was also placed in context, as was the abject failure of the UN to act in anything like a timely or sufficient manner.

However, in the end it was the sheer capacity for brutality against neighbours, based on a simple classification of ethnicity that was most troubling. The mass violence and the specific desire to wipe out a generation of Tutsi children were sickening. The people of Nyanrubuye parish are the subject of the dedication in this book and the account of the murders there will remain in my memory. However, overall I found the most frightening was the illustration of just how fragile life is when faced by a drunken or drugged teenager with a semi-automatic weapon and a crude imprinted message in his brain to wipe out the "cockroaches". In one simple act, lives are ruined across generations. Not a comfortable book but one that should be read if only to inspire its readers to stand against prejudice wherever it is encountered.
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on 23 August 2005
This book is like a dose of chemotherapy through the veins. A sharp awakening that we in the west are pretty much oblivious to the atrocity going on across the other side of the world. Yes i saw the news reels at the time. A bunch of pictures of what looked like mad men in the heat wielding machetes jumping on cars, like some mad excessive sick carnival. But the coverage was short lived and never gave a full picture of the politics of rwanda that lead to these events. It did come across as some inter tribal warfare. This book however gives you the lead up the history it does not simplify it into merely graphic descriptions of killing and ethnic hatred. The descriptions of the scenes of atrocity are moving but unsentimalised. The book is real and down to earth and therefore makes the events speak for themselves and us more able to comprehend the surrealness of the genocide. You really feel warmth towards the people he met and helped him on his journey. This writer understands about human charchter. This is not a journalist eager to show off about heroic news stories in rwanda. But someone who knew a story needed to be told. This book gives you a conscience about Africa and a desire to learn more.
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on 28 November 2007
Seaon of blood is an essential read for anyone interested in the madness that engulfed Rwanda in 1994. I have read many books on the subject but would recommend this one above all of the others apart from Shake Hands with the Devil.The depair that the author and his colleagues felt as they travelled oozes out from every page, I had to stop reading after every chapter and just simply pause to gather my thoughts. The part in which he describes meeting a woman, a baby a small child and three men moved me to tears as it was described how they had helped each other to survive particulary when I learnt that the small child clinging to the womans legs was not her child but one that she had protected along with her own baby.The inaction of the West and the actions of the Fench are beyond description. Just pray to whoever you pray to that it never happens again.
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on 25 February 2004
Keanes dipiction of Rwanda helped me in understanding the effects of genocide on its people when i studied Rwandan History for my degree, after reading it for academic reasons i found my self reading it again and again.your sickned by the events in Keanes book but you will be unable to put in down
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on 10 October 2003
In a world that seems to have no regard for personal and private accountability, let alone public accountability this book sticks out like a sore thumb.
Fergal Keane is one of the most human and humane writers around. Where his 'Letters ...' books evoked the memory of Raymond Carver, 'Seasons of blood' stands up like an Old Testament prophet and is not afraid to point the finger and speak the truth.
Keane was on the ground throughout the conflict, and he does not flinch from writing about what he has seen, what is etched indelibly into his mind and soul. It is not pleasant reading, but it is abook that we should all read, if only so that we can then lobby MPs and the Government to ask why justice has not been done here.
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on 25 January 2014
This is a first class read. It tells the tale of the journey through Rwanda by at the height of the atrocities there, from April to July, in 1994. The story revolves around the local tribes of the Tutsi and Hutu (vast majority) and the simmering disquiet between them which was in fact historical.
This is not a comprehensive account of all that happened in the atrocity. It is very much a personal story of what a small crew found from their own investigations, and with the aid of their contacts, to unearth the truth. They were in the middle of a very volatile environment and were very brave indeed, considering the murderous attitude around them. The tension and fear they suffered going about their business comes across loud and clear.
One fact that is very hard to stomach is that once again the 'protectors' - UN, USA and others, stood by and watched whilst innocents were slaughtered?
This was not a war; it was a slaughter, genocide. In just 3 months a million people were slaughtered, hacked to death by machetes & knives. They were mostly Tutsi and Hutus sympathizers. However, what was possibly not known at the time was that up to 500,000 women were raped as part of the genocidal tactics, of these it is thought that two thirds were purposefully infected with HIV & Aids, which is rife in Rwanda even today, with some 500,000 infected and 150,000 recorded deaths. Up until now very few of the main political perpetrators have been brought to justice, though the Rwandan prisons are full (100,000) with local war criminals. Worse was still to follow. After the Rwanda tragedy, the neighbouring Congo wars took place in which several million further deaths followed. The whole area was utter carnage for several years during and after the Rwanda episode.
The book, which is less than 200 pages, is very easy to read and gives you a real flavour of what it was like to be in that very hostile environment at that particular time.
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