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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  14,837 ratings  ·  1,087 reviews
In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months, 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide's backgrou ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published September 4th 1999 by Picador (first published September 30th 1998)
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Oct 20, 2008 Brendan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bill Clinton & Maddy Albright
To be honest, Gourevitch's book doesn't sound inviting. What book about genocide could? And its title alone suggests a kind of vicious, heart-stopping sadness that many of us would prefer to turn away from. Which may, in fact, be the point. Either way, Gourevitch's writing won't let you turn away. He tells the story of the Rwandan genocide in a prose so wonderfully crafted and infused with anger and insight as to be nearly hypnotic. From the opening pages, the young reporter confronts his own ve ...more
When I would tell my friends about how great of a book this is, I got a lot of, "I can't read that, it's too upsetting." This came from my progressive, non-profit sector, CSA share-owning friends. And I know what they mean. But seriously, you should read this book anyway.

And not just because it's important to understand the things that have gone on in this world during our time (and before) in order to change the future. Also because Gourevitch discusses some things in this book that I've never
This is not an easy book to read. But Gourevitch takes a tragedy about which most of the world knows very little -- the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis in 1994 -- and he thoroughly explores it, and along the way he humanizes it. This is a story about genocide, about war and politics, yes, but moreover it's a story about the people who lived through the horror of genocide, and those who died. Gourevitch talks to anyone who will tell him their story, it seems: survivors of the genocide, military offici ...more
I read this book while volunteering in Burundi, a country that has experienced a parallel civil conflict to that of Rwanda, but with much less international attention.

The book is full of chilling stories, exposing both the horror of the actions of the Rwanda orchestrators of the genocide, the willing and complicit participants in carrying out the genocide, and the willful inaction and facilitation of the conflict by international actors, including the U.S. government.

Most striking to me was th
Although I read this book only recently, over a decade after the events of the genocide in Rwanda I think that time has only reinforced and strengthened the impact of this book. While I cannot claim to have been old enough to be properly plugged into the political landscape during as the events were unfolding, it is indeed damning that I could have come away from all of the news coverage that the genocide eventually produced with such a deeply flawed understanding of the massacre.

“We wish to inf
How can you call a book about genocide great? It was informative and powerful. Tragic and very very sad. It made me so angry at times I had to put it down for fear I would throw it across the room. This book had me so frustrated with the politics involved that I just want to scream in frustration.
I have to add some of the most powerful, to me, statements made in this book:
"In May of 1994, I happened to be in Washington to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, an immensely popular to
How do you rate a book that is about something so absolutely horrible. When I was younger I remember reading books on the holocaust and thinking this could never happen again. How naive I was. Not only has it happened again, it continues to happen and the world barely notices. I have read books about the Rwandan genocide from the victim's point of view. Those books give you the horrible gut wrenching emotional side of it. This book helps you understand the political side of it. My only gripe is ...more
possibly one of the best books i've read on rwanda. horribly depressing, horribly great, just.

absolutely wonderful work. i put it second to The Age of Genocide only because that is possibly the end all book on genocide, because of it's breath, scope, and wonderful, wonderful history.

but this is maybe the best book on rwanda i've read. and read again. and again.
I read this book about the Rwandan genocide several years ago, thought about it again as I was reading The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan by Yasmin Khan, and picked it up to reread when I was pondering the current crisis in Syria and Iraq.

What triggers genocide? What leads once-peaceful peoples to willingly, enthusiastically participate in mass murder, rape, and other unthinkable atrocities? Like Yasmin Khan, Philip Gourevitch focuses on a detailed analysis of what was happeni
The Rwanda genocide of 1994 took place while I was moving between teaching jobs--- something horrible and ghost-like on a television screen. It always had that air of Stalin's old line that "one person's death is a tragedy; a million deaths are only a statistic." Philip Gourevitch's "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" makes the deaths--- yes, almost a million in a hundred days or so ---into tragedy: the tragedies of individuals, of a nation, of the so-called ...more
Here's the review of this book I put on my blog:
On the flight home I read Philip Gourevitch’s ` We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families’. In spite of many accolades for the author, I didn’t like his writing. However, the book is worth reading as a disturbing reminder of the violence and cruelty man is capable of committing in the name of such recently constructed ideas as ethnicity and nationalism. This sort violence is perhaps among the most serious problems faci
This is a devastating book. It gives a few family narratives in the context of genocide and hits your soul with the sadness of friends and neighbors and families killed by friends and neighbors and family. The book does a descent job of giving some causalities to the genocide without necessarily falling into justification. It also works with the tensions of justice and reconciliation wondering how the post genocide RPA government can navigate between the lines of justice and stability, between t ...more
Mikey B.

The second part of this book is better than the first. Although interesting, the first part seems detached and meandering; a nice set of interviews - but for the most part they seem to be after-the-fact interviews.

The second part becomes more unified and emotional. It is concerned more with the here and now; of how Rwanda is 'coping' with the genocide (indeed, if it can ever hope to do so). Sometimes I feel the author is painting a 'rosy' picture of Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
"God no longer wants you." So spoke a local pastor, a man of religion, as he ordered the massacre of 2,000 of his Tutsi neighbours and friends. The mass killings that took place in Rwanda in 1994 stand as the most hideous since Hitler and Stalin, yet they were aided by the French government, who supported the maniacal Hutu Power government. This book tears apart the excuses given by the Western powers as to why they didn't interfere, why they just let more than 800,000 Tutsis be obliterated with ...more
Bonnie Brody
I read this book with my heart in my stomach. At the same time I could not put it down. For anyone interested in understanding the history of Rwanda, the genocide that occurred there, the colonialization that pitted the Hutus against the Tutsis and the artificiality of separating these two groups, this is a brilliant and essential book.

I learned about how the Rwandan population was arbitrarily separated into two groups - the Tutsis and the Hutus - by the Belgians. They are actually the same race
This is a very comprehensive, approachable history, documentation, and aftermath of the genocide (let's call it what it is) in Africa, and specifically in Rwanda. One of the most engaging tactics employed by the author are his notes from interviews with both key political figures and everyday citizens. Hearing accounts first hand from those at the heart of the matter is very impactful. Also, the author doesn't fail to point out all sides of the situation, holding everyone accountable. There is a ...more
Questa non è solo una storia africana. Non è solo una lotta tra hutu e tutsi. È una storia che riguarda l’umanità intera. Perché non esistono essere umani più umani degli altri.

Nel più piccolo paese dell’Africa, il Rwanda, in un territorio inferiore a quello della Lombardia, in un paesaggio che a volte ricorda le Langhe altre la Svizzera, tra il 6 aprile e la metà di luglio del 1994 si è consumato il genocidio più cruento e rapido della storia dell’umanità: si calcola che in
just to get it out of the way up front, this book blew me away. it is extremely difficult to get through, both because of the gruesomely accurate description of the genocide as well as the length and density of the writing. but i think gourevitch did a great job of painting a "big picture" of the issues that led to such an event and brilliantly told some stories that have left me in awe even to this day.

what i kept seeing come up again and again was the idea that as horrible as this genocide was
Anna Cain
Dec 30, 2014 Anna Cain rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: "The International Community"
Shelves: human-rights
For me, a normal Friday night means hanging out with Amnesty International and discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A crazy Friday night means drinking white wine and discussing Israel-Palestine while people play beer pong in the background. Due to my career trajectory and questionable social life, I spend a great deal of time reading about human rights. Recently, I've found something disturbing about books and movies on genocide... and I don't just mean the subject matter.

Take the Holoc
I'm really glad I read this book after reading "Killing Pablo" by Mark Bowden. This account of the genocide in Rwanda was everything I wanted it to be. It gave a concise, relevant history of Rwanda which explained how the various factions arose and the Hutu Power party was able to exploit the masses without getting so far into the weeds that it became boring or made the book a thousand pages long.

Then, it recounted the genocide and the aftermath, spanning the mid to late 1990s in a meaningful wa
This book details the genocide in Rwanda in the mid-nineties, and I must confess that prior to reading this book, I knew next to nothing about what had been going on in that country while in this country we obsessed about Desert Storm and I passed through junior high, high school, and college. In Rwanda, two ethnic groups that had lived side-by-side for centuries turned against each other, with Hutus declaring that Tutsis were not true Rwandans and needed to be eliminated from the country. In Ap ...more
Jason Smith
The week spent reading Gourevitch's fantastic book has been an intense one. The amount of detail, humanity, and grace in the book is exceptional. I feel confident in comparing the author's work with the great chronicler of the "third world" Ryszard Kapuściński. He shares the the intense skeptical eye of western influence. Gourevitch goes to great lengths to show the detrimental work done by state governments and the "international community," particularly with aid organizations in their desire t ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Sep 19, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is an account of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, when 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus in the period of 3 months. They were killed, mostly with machetes, in the most horrific ways imaginable, while the rest of the world turned their eyes away.
Philip Gourevitch explains just how the genocide came to pass, and what the aftermath was in the following four years.
Along with the facts, this book raises so many questions – How can a person hack to death someone in their
December 2009


Allow me to take a moment to feel very accomplished over this, because it took me forever. At some point, in the two years since I first tried to read it, it became a personal challenge to me to actually finish the thing.

Gourevitch's prose is very emotionally effective -- it is never ornate or heavy, but is always beautiful, well-crafted journalistic writing. Every story that he tells illustrates a point, and I never had the feeling that he was telling t
Chris McLane
Sep 26, 2007 Chris McLane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a conscience
Shelves: favourites
This is a remarkable book and possibly one of the most difficult I have ever read.

In 1994 over 800,000 people were killed in the systematic genocide of Rawanda, brought about by racial tension, prejudice, ignorance and group-think insanity. It is hard to understand or appreciate how in the space of 100 days so many people could be killed- neighbor against neighbor, family against family- and for it to happen is such a dispassionate fashion. People simply rounded up, or cornered and raped and mur
Wow. While I hesitate to say that I "enjoyed" a book about genocide, I have to say that this is one of the most riveting books I've read in a long time. It's hard to know which is more horrifying--the genocide itself, or the shocking indifference (and in some cases, complacency) with which the international community responded. Every chapter contains at least one section that made me say, "I'm sorry, WHAT??" and reread it over and over again out of sheer dismay and amazement. It's scary to think ...more
One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. A shocking indictment of the so-called global community's complicity in the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. While the Hutu Power movement systematically exterminated hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi countrymen (and any fellow Hutus who refused to engage in the genocide themselves), the United Nations sat on its hands; the United States was more concerned with appearances and semantics than with putting a stop to the bloodshed; and France provi ...more
A first hand examination of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Gives a number of survivor stories, a thorough look at the country in it's aftermath (up to 1998). An excellent view of the international communities role in the genocide, it's inaction, and the debacle of humanitarian aid which aggravated the situation and wound up giving money and supplies to many of the Genocidaires. It did not seem to be as explanatory of the causes of the genocide or the organization and planning and execution. These ...more
One of the first in-depth analyses of the genocide, it is impossible to read and remain indifferent to what Rwandans have endured. It is also impossible to imagine that much of the world did just that -remained indifferent - before, during, and after the massacres.
But, readers, if you are planning to read this account (precise, incisive, and poignant) you have probably already vanquished indifference, and your obligation to remember can start here.
Philip Gourevitch shreds to pieces the shameful garb of the western world on failing to help out the people of Rwanda when a cruel beastly war broke out in the country killing nearly a 100,000 Tutsis. This book is a heart wrenching account of the genocide and makes you tear up nearly at the beginning when Philip Gourevitch investigates and interviews the families of victims of the massacre and weaves out the intricate details of the crisis in a clear, discernible fabric that can be laid out as a ...more
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Gourevitch was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to painter Jacqueline Gourevitch and philosophy professor Victor Gourevitch, a translator of Jean Jacques Rousseau. He and his brother Marc, a physician, spent most of their childhood in Middletown, Connecticut, where their father taught at Wesleyan University from 1967 to 1995. Gourevitch graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connec ...more
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“Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.” 47 likes
“The West's post-Holocaust pledge that genocide would never again be tolerated proved to be hollow, and for all the fine sentiments inspired by the memory of Auschwitz, the problem remains that denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.” 12 likes
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