on 15 February 2014
I met David Belton at kids cricket. He mentioned he had been to Rwanda. I wanted to ask him questions, but genocide isn't exactly light, village green conversation.
Thank goodness for this wonderfully written book. What David covers and expresses so eloquently is beyond any conversation we could possibly have had. The personal stories of others involved in the dark days of Rwanda's genocide works brilliantly with David's own experiences as a BBC reporter there in 1994. The horror of what happened, why it happened and the future, is explored in a way that is accessible, riveting, vivid, brutal and shocking. I think this book will be appreciated by those who know the story well, and also to those like myself who remember the Rwanda genocide as just a passing news item in the mid 1990's.
I couldn't recommend this book enough and also the film 'Shooting Dogs' which was written by David. The combination of the two gives an incredible insight into what happened in Rwanda, and also the potential of us human beings to be be both barbaric and incredibly selfless and brave.
Definitely puts cricket in perspective.
on 5 December 2014
When English people are asked to give gross instances of man's inhumanity to man, we immediately think of the six million Jews who died in Hitler's gas chambers in the Second World War. But how many of us remember the genocide of more recent times in the small African country of Rwanda, where in 1994 the Hutu majority rose up and slaughtered the Tutsi minority? David Belton covered the climax of the war for BBC television's Newsnight and saw the piles of bloodied bodies, the smashed skulls of little children swung by their legs against house walls, and the floating corpses jamming the waterways. Now, 20 years later, in When the Hills ask for your Blood, he revisits his time in Rwanda and graphically and movingly describes what happened.
In the chaos and terror of war where neighbour killed neighbour in this predominantly Christian country, the only chance a Tutsi stood was to flee or to hide until danger had passed. Belton tells the harrowing story of one young couple who separately followed these courses of action. This narrative told with great empathy is interwoven with another story, that of V Curic, an energetic and charismatic Bosnian priest, a Franciscan who found his freedom living and working among the poor in Rwanda. Ten years on when the war broke out, he had already seen some successes in his ambitious building programme. Now he wasn't going to abandon the people who needed him, and proved to be man of great courage in war, as Belton witnessed first hand.
This beautifully written and lyrical book stands to be a classic of our time, a requiem for all those who died in the genocide, and a lasting tribute to a man who really did make a difference.
on 28 January 2015
David Belton. Harrowing.
When The Hills Ask For Your Blood.
April the 6th 1994 is a date all Rwandans will remember, the presidents plane was shot out of the sky killing him,and kick starting one of the worst acts of genocide ever known. It lasted about 100 days and cost the lives of approximately one million people. This is one mans story being told as he went through Rwanda, not with a gun or machete but with notebook and pencil. He tells you everything that he saw happen, and some of it is heartbreaking. Highly recommended read.
5 stars. 28 January 2015.
on 24 February 2014
A harrowing story well told through the eyes of a compassionate observer. The observer clearly became more than just a professional recorder of this genocide, returning to find the brave and holy men who sacrificed so much for their fellow man. Within this account of Man's inhumanity to Man, is a transcendent story of Man's equal capacity for goodness and compassion. It's an important book which, along with other accounts of tragic episodes in 20th century history, should be compulsory reading for all students around the world. Perhaps then one could entertain a slight hope that the Rwandan tragedy might be a genocide to end all genocides. Peter F.
on 12 May 2014
I've read a fair bit about the Rwandan genocide. Many books focus on the failure of the Rwandan state, the preparation for genocide and the failure of the international community. Often, the stories of ordinary Rwandans are largely ignored, which is perverse because it is they who suffered and continue to suffer as a result of 100 extraordinary, tragic days in 1994. Which makes David Belton's book so welcome. David was the BBC's man in Kigali during and after the genocide and I'm guessing it would have been very easy for him to capitalise on that fact and write an account of his experiences in the months after the event. But his book is all the richer precisely because he did not do that. His time there - during the genocide and during the 20 years since - has clearly left a lasting impression on him (indeed it seems to have shaped much of his working life). This book is about people: some who gave their lives to help others, others who fought desperately for their lives, all of whom showed unbelievable spirit and courage. It's a fascinating insight into the stories of people David met in 1994 and some of whom he has got to know since. It's a riveting read that gives a voice to ordinary Rwandans. I read it in about 4 sittings...I could not put it down. Recommended reading for anyone who wants an inspirational read.