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Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (Rwanda #2)

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,266 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
In April-May 1994, 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis were massacred by their Hutu fellow citizens--about 10,000 a day, mostly being hacked to death by machete. In Machete Season, the veteran foreign correspondent Jean Hatzfeld reports on the results of his interviews with nine of the Hutu killers. They were all friends who came from a single region where they helped to kill 50,000 ou ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2003)
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Nov 06, 2012 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the farmer kills the cheese
Recommended to Mariel by: the farmer kills the mouse
"This gentleman I killed at the marketplace, I can tell you the exact memory of it because he was the first. For others, it's murky- I cannot keep track anymore in my memory. I considered them unimportant; at the time of those murders I didn't even notice the tiny thing that would change me into a killer."

Susan Sontag wrote the preface for Jean Hatzfeld's book Machete Season. She says: To make the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda is a painful task that we have no right to shirk- it i
Paul Bryant
With some books you get exactly what you expected, which in this case, was a bunch of ordinary guys from Rwanda talking about killing people with machetes, a lot. They were all interviewed at length in prison.

During the killings I no longer considered anything in the Tutsi except the person has to be done away with. I want to make clear that from the first gentleman I killed to the last, I was not sorry about a single one.

For anyone who needs reminding, the events described in this so easy to re
Regina Lindsey
Sep 26, 2012 Regina Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Ours is appallingly, an age of genocide, but even so, what happened in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 stands out in several ways. In a tiny, landlocked African country smaller than the state of Maryland, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors. The women, men, and children who were slaughtered were of the same race and shared the same language, customs, and confession (Roman Catholic) as those who eagerly slaughtered them." (pg 5) All this in twelve weeks.

Più che bello, è un libro interessante.
Ha un approccio non abusato, tutt'altro: non per sminuire i racconti delle vittime, dei sopravvissuti (sui quali però esiste talvolta un giochino speculativo da parte degli autori), che sono testimonianze pregnanti e indispensabili.

Qui, la parola è ai carnefici: entrare nel cuore nero di un assassino, di un boia, per me, è più arduo che comprendere le ragioni delle vittime, per le quali l'empatia nasce spontanea, e il processo di
Cristobo De
May 02, 2012 Cristobo De rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazement. That`s my reaction to this book. So this journalist visits a Ruwandan prison and gets six of the Hutu executioners during the 1994 genocide to speak freely about their crimes. This time it is not a novel writer doing his best to sound spooky, this time it is not some sane, decent person like Primo Levy describing mass murder from the victim`s side. This time you get to the other side, as close as you can get to the real core of horror. What these men did goes so far beyond my experien ...more
I noticed that one of my Goodreads friends who is a Holocaust librarian was reading this book, so I decided to follow his lead. Words cannot begin to convey the depth and complexity of emotions which this book elicits. More than anything else, it is devastating, and insightful: giving the reader a glimpse into the minds of the Hutu killers during the Rwandan genocide.
All I can do is provide you with one small, chilling example of what one Hutu farmer thought when asked about the word genocide:
Aug 15, 2009 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely horrifying as it deals with first hand accounts of several killers from Rwanda during the genocide. I think I was looking for some kind of insight into the mentality of these killers, and how seemingly normal people could commit such acts of evil. Ultimately the complete banality and lack of remorse these killers felt, both during and after, the atricious murders of babies, neighbours, pregnant women etc., just left me feeling devasted.
Joel Arnold
Feb 10, 2012 Joel Arnold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is largely comprised of interviews from the men who perpetrated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. I definitely enjoyed the authenticity of hearing from e men themselves. The author also inserts some background information and occasional observations about the nature of genocide.

I enjoyed several things about this book:
1. It gave me a great understanding of the historical background for the events in Rwanda.
2. It gave me a small sense of what it would have been like to be there during the ev
Daniel DeLappe
Sep 14, 2015 Daniel DeLappe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very disturbing book that should be read by everyone. It is amazing to see these people try to excuse their behavior. Of course they were not responsible for their behavior and of course the people they slaughtered were some how at fault in their deaths. Two things that really stand out in this book. These murderers actually are a bit put off that their victims families did not forgive their transgressions and a few of these shit stains are actually walking around free today. Read this book fo ...more
Mar 18, 2010 FiveBooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writer Philip Gourevitch has chosen to discuss Jean Hatzfeld’s Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Rwanda, saying that:

Hatzfeld wound up going back to Rwanda and the whole group of killers who had been pursuing the survivors he’d been writing about in his first book were all in one prison nearby. And he arranged to meet with them on a regular basis, individually and collectively, to hear their stories. And it’s the most direct (I gu
Tariq Mahmood
Jul 20, 2012 Tariq Mahmood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The educated people were certainly the ones who drove the farmers on, out in the marshes. Today they're the ones who juggle with the words or turn close-mouthed. Many sit quietly in their same places as before. Some have become ministers or bishops; they aren't much in the public eye, but they still wear their fancy clothes and fold framed glasses. While suffering keeps us in prison. Adalbert, a Hutu farmer turned killer in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

What a book. Its a book which is unlike any ot

"In a tiny, landlocked African country smaller than the state of Maryland, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors. The women, men, and children who were slaughtered were of the same race and shared the same language, customs, and confession (Roman Catholic) as those who eagerly slaughtered them." (p.vii)

"When there has been one genocide there can be another, at any time in the future, anywhere -- if the cause is still there and no one knows what it is"
Renée Wyman
Feb 09, 2015 Renée Wyman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to read, but a narrative that everyone should. The stories and perspectives of Rwanda's worst were not at all what I expected. The realities this novel depicts are ones we all should face in order to prevent history from repeating itself.
Seth Benzell
I read this book for one of Fettweis' international relations courses in undergrad. I don't know to what extent it was intentional or necessary, but the readings for his courses juxtaposed cold realist style analyses of conflicts with works like this one and "WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING". What was Fettweis trying to say? To me the implication was clear - no matter how rational the tools and organization of war may be, war itself needs irrationality. It needs individuals to buy into the ...more
Todd Wilhelm
Mar 19, 2015 Todd Wilhelm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a compilation of interviews with Rwanda Hutus who participated in the genocidal killings of the Tutsis. At times it was chilling to read, but I pressed on as I was curious to see what drives average people to become crazed genocidal killers. There are no easy answers. What frightens me is the possibility that all of us have this darkness lurking deep down in our hearts.

"To kill so many human beings without wavering, we had to hate with no second thoughts. Hatred was the only emotion
Jan 15, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A staggering work on perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Hatzfeld is a journalist by trade, and it is clear in his style of writing. That being said, he more than ably manages to weave history, testimony from a group of friends that were perpetrators, and testimony of survivors/family members of the perpetrators. It is an insightful book for anyone that wishes to learn what was going on in the mind of the perpetrators throughout the process of the Rwandan genocide. One is left wondering, much ...more
Crazy. From horror to the banal and matter-of-fact accounts, this collection is key for anyone wanting to get a better grasp of what happened in Rwanda.
L Frost
Jul 28, 2016 L Frost rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because of the subject matter, it's impossible to say this is a "good" book. But it is insightful, disturbing, confusing, and important. Although I was somewhat curious to hear from these men why they did what they did, I wasn't sure there was really much to learn that you didn't already know from the survivors and scholars. But the psychology surrounding these men plays a much bigger role than imagined. The possible motives were much more complex than what you may initially think. It's importan ...more
Sharon Brown
May 02, 2014 Sharon Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book after reading An Ordinary Man, the autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the man from the movie Hotel Rwanda who managed to help save over a thousand Rwandan refugees (both Hutu & Tutsi). The movie and the book both touched me so deeply when I saw this book I jumped right on it because it tells the other side of the story, from the perpetrators of the genocide. I couldn't (&still can't) understand how regular people like myself could just up and start killing people, thei ...more
Aug 24, 2015 Histteach24 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is very difficult to read from the perspective of the killers, but from an educational standpoint-necessary. I highly recommend this book for classroom use. I think the writing is mature and needs to be discussed in a classroom in order to be analyzed and understood. I'm not sure putting it on a book list to read would simply be enough as students need to be forced to drive deeply into some of the statements made by the killers and the survivors. The book can be used as a parallel to ones wri ...more
Jan 01, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a seriously depressing book. Jean Hatzfeld goes into a prison in Rwanda and interviews a dozen killers from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This book was fascinating and insightful. It explores how ordinary people can be swept up into inhumane acts. It's chilling really.
Un testo complesso e difficile da leggere.
All'inizio, quando ho visto che si trattava di confrontare tra loro le testimonianze di un gruppo ristretto di "uccisori", temevo sarebbe stato ripetitivo o poco stimolante, rispetto ad un saggio più articolato sul genocidio in Ruanda.
Ma sbagliavo, l'autore è stato molto bravo nel dosare gli argomenti, nel riportare le interviste e nel contestualizzarle.
Di certo però è una lettura impegnativa più che per quello che raccontano di fatto gli intervistati
Ali Tehrani
In a 12-week span in 1994, the Hutus of Rwanda systemically massacred 800,000 Tutsis. Machete Seasons focuses on the murder of 55,000 of the 59,000 Tutsis in three hilltop Rwandan towns. The books is mostly a series of interviews with a group of imprisoned Hutus who helped carry out the genocide.

Interesting, but not the most riveting book. The interview format, while valuable as a historical resource, was often repetitive. But this book makes me want to read more about the Rwandan genocide, pre
May 09, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently visited Rwanda on a work trip (I'm writing this in spring 2016, 22 years after the genocide) and before traveling I decided to do a bit of reading up on the country as backround. Having already read We Wish To Inform You... I looked into Hatzfeld's books, as they came highly recommended, and I started with Machete Season. A fascinating book that largely entails a series of transcribed and translated interviews with individuals awaiting trial for their participation as active killers i ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Juliette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among the many published books dealing with the Rwandan genocide, Machete Season is perhaps the most direct and honest one I have come across in a long time. Told from the perspective of 6 accused killers/participants, the accounts are frank, deliberate and breathtaking. The author borders on anthropologist as he visits the prison each day, collecting the stories from these men. Although he admits to their deceptive ways in the beginning of their sessions together, by the end of the process, the ...more
May 26, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting series of interviews with some of the participants in the Rwandan genocide, who took up machetes and killed their neighbors. That said, I read this book in small doses, a chapter at a time, over a couple of months, and I can't imagine any other way. It takes time to absorb, and I think if you read it all at once it would lose some impact. I am glad the killers agreed to talk, and that they were interviewed - though their perspectives are, I admit, not something I can u ...more
Hutu w Jerozolimie

W lutym 2012 wydawnictwo Czarne polską edycją Sezonu maczet zamknęło trylogię rwandyjską Hatzfelda, słuszniej byłoby jednak nazwać ją trylogią o znieczulającym, obezwładniającym i usprawiedliwiającym wpływie innych i jego skutkach. A także o nieufności. Jean Hatzfeld przyjeżdża do więzienia w Rilimie, by tym razem oddać głos osadzonej tam grupce przyjaciół z Kibungo, zabójcom pochodzenia Hutu, nie bez wcześniejszych wątpliwości, czy w ogóle należy to robić – tak w skrócie można
Jan 17, 2011 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jean Hatzfeld interviews ten Hutus who participated in the Rwandan genocide while serving their terms in jail. The book is divided into sections of direct quotes made by the killers and some survivors and Hatzfeld's own challenge to understand how the killers' explanations fit into a larger context of genocides, politics and human nature. The killer's discussion about why and how the genocide happened and how they came to participate in it, and what they think of it now is nothing short of astou ...more
Dec 01, 2013 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last book I had to read for a school paper this semester. As per others I've had to read so far, it was rather tough to get through. Aside from the spring of 1994, Rwanda has seen violence and power struggles for decades. It would seem as if Rwanda is a country that has been ruled by violence for far too long - so long, in fact, that the inhabitants of the country don't know how to function in any other way.

To this day, the killers firmly believe in their actions during the spring of
Jul 02, 2007 david-baptiste rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
this is a devastating book--jean hatzfeld presents in a lucid prose the situation of the men who speak in this book--released war criminals, men who had a daily job of killing from 9 to 5--with a lunch break--beer after work--a ride to and from work--and now are being slowly reintegrated back into their society--
none of the things tha a reader may expect or hope or imagine to hear from these men is here--the range of tones in which the words take place is a dimension which is at once so complete
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Jocko Podcast Boo...: Jocko Podcast #16 - Machete Season 3 13 May 24, 2016 10:02AM  
Jocko Podcast Boo...: Machete Season by Jean Hatzfeld 1 6 Apr 05, 2016 07:42AM  
  • Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey
  • Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
  • Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide and the International Community
  • The Order Of Genocide: Race, Power, And War In Rwanda
  • Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda
  • When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda
  • Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda
  • God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation
  • A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It
  • Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
  • First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army
  • The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur
  • As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda
  • A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa
  • Blood And Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur
  • The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa
  • Humiliation: And Other Essays on Honor, Social Discomfort, and Violence
  • Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda
Jean Hatzfeld is a journalist. He worked for many years as a war correspondent for Libération, a French newspaper, before leaving to focus on reporting the Rwandan genocide.
More about Jean Hatzfeld...

Other Books in the Series

Rwanda (3 books)
  • Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
  • The Antelope's Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide

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“...and my eyes no longer gaze the same on the face of the world.” 14 likes
“The truth is not believable to someone who has not lived it in his muscles.” 4 likes
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