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Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  7,961 Ratings  ·  520 Reviews
On the 10th anniversary of when UN peacekeepers landed in Rwanda, Random House Canada proudly publishes the unforgettable 1st-hand account of the genocide by the leader of the mission. Digging deep into shattering memories, Dallaire has written a powerful story of betrayal, naïveté, racism & international politics. His message is simple, undeniable: Never again.

When L
Paperback, 562 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published October 21st 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 01, 2009 Vanessa rated it really liked it
This is such an important book, but a very tough one to get through because it is filled with stuff that will make you want to tear your hair out in frustration, hang your head in shame, and boil your brain in bleach to remove the terrible images seared into it. It is no wonder that General Dallaire is still traumatized after this experience, and he has my admiration for mustering his strength and courage to write it all down, just as he has my admiration for refusing to turn his back on the peo ...more
Paul Bryant
I imagine many copies of this bestselling book lie around unread or abandoned. I did not read all 548 pages. It's huge and vastly detailed and extremely narrowly focussed on what Romeo Dallaire did on a day to day hour by hour basis during the terrible period of the genocide.

This is what the whole heart and soul of the book is about - it's not about WHY the genocide happened, and how some Rwandans could slaughter 800,000 of their fellow citizens, it's about how the rest of the world, having bee
Grande personalità il generale Romeo Dallaire: lucido e appassionato al contempo, si porta dentro un senso di colpa e un classico disturbo post-traumatico da stress che gli hanno cambiato la vita per sempre e che riesce ad arginare solo con l'uso di psicofarmaci, che comunque non hanno impedito che tentasse il suicidio.
Era lì durante il genocidio in Rwanda, avrebbe voluto e potuto fermarlo prima ancora che si scatenasse l'inferno: ma l'hanno lasciato impotente ad assistere alle
Nov 01, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing
Dallaire's powerful memoir is important, graphic, and undeniable. It is, however, a tough read because of the disturbing events he describes and the even more disturbing lack of action on behalf of Rwanda's victims. Its historic importance and brutal honesty earns it five stars.
Sylvain Reynard
Jan 21, 2012 Sylvain Reynard rated it really liked it
Those interested in military or African history will find much of interest here, as will those who are interested in the inner (and outer) workings of the U. N. and its peacekeeping missions. Dallaire shows the failure of the UN and Western nations to intervene adequately in the Rwandan genocide. But history is not without its witnesses, and Dallaire and his soldiers provide a record of the nation of Rwanda's descent into hell. This descent includes the gang-rape and murder of children and the u ...more
Saleem Khan
My review, published in Metro, February 2004.

Shake Hands with the Devil
Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire

If there was any doubt about the nature of Lt. Gen Roméo Dallaire’s Shake Hands With The Devil, let me be clear: This is not casual reading.

At 562 pages, this is an eyewitness account of the story behind the story of how at least 800,000 Rwandans were brutally slain at the hands of their countrymen in an orgy of killing through the spring and summer of 1994.

As the force commander for the United Nati
William Cline
Jul 20, 2011 William Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I read this shortly after reading Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, which was fortunate. Shake Hands with the Devil is clear and well-written, but it doesn’t supply much context. What it offers is a blow-by-blow of the Rwandan genocide from Dallaire’s perspective. Dallaire commanded the military side of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), which was meant to be a straightforward peacekeeping mission monitoring a pea ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book that made me so angry.

The author is Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian who was the force commander of UNAMIR, the UN mission charged with steering Rwanda through the Arusha Accords. In this memoir, Dallaire recalls in detail the day-to-day struggle of UNAMIR to accomplish its mission, from the time he landed in Rwanda in September of 1993, through the 100 day genocide beginning in April, all the way through the conclusion of his tour in August.

For me, the book was a page turner.
Mikey B.
Nov 12, 2012 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing
A personal and heart-rending account. This is definitely a ‘boots on the ground’ rendition of the terrible tragedy in Rwanda in 1994.

We sense Romeo Dallaire’s naiveté when he arrived in Rwanda in late 1993. As he was learning about the intricate political groupings surrounding the Arusha Peace Agreement so, he to, was being assessed – particularly as to the level of commitment of the U.N. to Central Africa. This was shortly after the Americans had lost troops in Somalia. How much was the West (a
Steve Wehling
Feb 15, 2008 Steve Wehling rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
An excellent chronological view of the Rwanda genocide as seen by the Canadian general in charge of UN security in the country. Ostensibly this assignment was for him to take a skeletal force of UN troops from a few nations and provide security for the implementation of a peace agreement and the installation of a transitional government. A great keyhole view into the problems of UN peacekeeping. I admire his tenacious adherence to his duty in light of absolute chaos and terror going on around hi ...more
May 23, 2010 Hannah rated it it was ok
This book reminds me of the scene in Amadeus in which Emperor Joseph II tells Mozart that there were "simply too many notes."

This book has simply too many words.

I believe that Dallaire's perspective and insight about what happened in Rwanda in 1994 needs to be shared. However, I'm not sure that it needed to be shared for more than five hundred pages. The sheer length of the text is prohibitive for many readers, and Dallaire may be have been able to reach a wider audience with his message had t
Marissa  Pineda
May 23, 2008 Marissa Pineda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have started several reviews for this book and I am simply at a loss for words for how to describe my feelings about it. I was profoundly affected by Dallaire's experience. His story changed my perception of the world, of government, and of myself. Dallaire feels he failed in his mission, he was undercut and thwarted on all sides. He could have walked away, turned his back on Rwanda the way the rest of the world did. He knew he couldn't succeed in preventing the genocide, from ending the aptat ...more
One feels compelled to excuse any shortcoming this book might have, in light of General Dallaire's unquestionable heroism in the face of unbelievable horror. On the human level, this book is excellent, both as a warning against the evils of genocide and as a reminder that there are people still dedicated to justice and peace, even at great personal cost. On the literary level, and on the personal level, this book sucked. The flow of events is alternately dizzyingly fast or numbingly slow; the hu ...more
Jun 28, 2007 Liesel rated it it was amazing
This book, though heavy in military jargon and very long, was absolutely one of the most stunning books I have ever read. It was gripping, and completely chilling. It is the deeply personal story of Romeo Daillaire, the head of the UN Peacekeeping mission for Rwanda during the genocide/war and how he witnessed, literally, the abandonment of humanity by humanity.

It is worth your time to read this book. I plan to read it again soon.
Yvonne (It's All About Books)
Finished reading: December 17th 2012
Rating 3,5qqq

“The global village is deteriorating at a rapid pace, and in the children of the world the result is rage. It is the rage I saw in the eyes of the teenage Interahamwe militiamen in Rwanda, it is the rage I sensed in the hearts of the children of Sierra Leone, it is the rage I felt in crowds of ordinary civilians in Rwanda, and it is the rage that resulted in September 11. Human beings who have no rights, no security, no future, no hope and no means to survi
Mar 10, 2011 uh8myzen rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely stunning insider's look at the travesty of the Rwanda genocide and the United Nations mission led by General Romeo Dallaire.

The book explores two stories. The first being General Dallaire's personal journey from a strong, confident warrior to the broken, suicidal man he became upon his return to Canada. A man consumed by the guilt and the horror of a genocide that very well could have been prevented had his warnings to the United Nations been heeded and had he been given th
Sep 20, 2013 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shake Hands With the Devil is a frustrating, horrifying and terribly important book, written by a reluctant eyewitness to the Rwandan Genocide: Lt Gen Roméo Dallaire, Force Commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). His account of the meager mandate and resources given to him by the UN to monitor a peaceful government transition in the unstable country, and the organization's refusal to respond to his pleas for more men and matériel as the situation began to spiral out of contro ...more
Regina Lindsey
Sep 27, 2012 Regina Lindsey rated it really liked it
Shake Hands With The Devil by Romeo Dallaire
4 Stars

Canadian Romeo Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the ill-fated UN peace keeping forces in Rwanda between 1993 - 1994, the era known as the Rwanda Genocide. Shake Hands with the Devil is his chronicle of events leading up to the outbreak of violence, events during those tumultuous 100 days, and a reflection of the leadership in charge of keeping peace.

I typically stay away from memoirs. As humans very few of us are able to look at ourselv
Apr 16, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing
This is the unforgetable account of Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). When he first arrived in Rwanda, he was brimming with confidence at the prospect of successfully maintaining the peace and ushering in the country's transitional government. What he encountered, however, was a UN administration that was distracted by other theaters and hamstrung by a bewildering bureaucracy, and Western Powers unwilling to commit even a single soldier or c ...more
Shourie Bannai
Apr 13, 2012 Shourie Bannai rated it it was amazing
This is more of a indictment document rather than a book. The accusation by an unassuming, innocent, devoted army man who was helplessly put into his position to bear witness to the ugliest face of human cruelty on an unimaginable scale. I am still at loss of words how this brave man has survived after all that he has been through, when just reading the book has made me unimaginably melancholic, at loss for emotions. This book is not for those carefree souls and who cherish that attitude because ...more
Jan 24, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing
General Dallaire recounts the events leading up to the Rwandan genocide from his perspective as a UN commandeer in charge of implementing a little known peace treaty between Rwandan parties - the implementation if it had been carried out could have prevented a deliberate carefully planned attempt by extremists to eradicate a portion of the country's population and come to power.

As carefully spelled out in his narrative, this was not a "spontaneous spasm of horrific violence" as often characteriz
Jan 04, 2017 NormaCenva rated it really liked it
Sorry guys, but to be honest with you - I still do not understand why they didn't do anything!
Shake Hands with the Devil is a compelling memoir that tells the tale of General Romeo Dallaire and his experiences during the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire provides a first0hand account of the atrocities that he experienced in Rwanda, while continuously receiving the same order from the United Nations: Do not act.

Before I read this book, my dream was to one day work for the United Nations, to work against violence and corruption, and foster peace and development. Dallaire's novel completely shatt
Sandy Ferguson
Dec 30, 2009 Sandy Ferguson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dallaire's book is a powerful call to action that damns the so called civilised world for its failure to act in the face of Rwanda'a genocide. Dallaire and his companions stand out as rare beacons of light amongst those who refused to act to save Rwanda.
It was a heart wrenching book to read, because it becomes clear that the genocide could have been stopped, but none of the so-called great powers cared, because they did not feel that Rwanda was worth saving. As Dallaire quotes the American offic
Sep 10, 2016 Margarita rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a compelling account of what Lieutenant General Dallaire’s experiences as a UN Force Commander in Rwanda were like in the early nineties. His account is partly self-defence and partly placing blame. All of it is a detailed play-by-play of his perspective on the numerous barriers he faced in seeing through his mission. To be clear, it is not a balanced perspective nor can it be expected to be. You will be left feeling like humanity has failed and perhaps it has. So, with that said, it’s c ...more
Beverley Kaye
Jun 07, 2011 Beverley Kaye rated it liked it
The story of a genocide and the trauma of the witnesses. “Never again” we see repeated in museums and memorial guest books but we keep letting it happen. Notice “we let” not just “it continues”. It is a conscious decision to ignore the plight of people caught in a civil war...neither their government nor the insurgents care about these people so why should we. We can’t take our inaction we take sides. If there is vast carbon based mineral resources...then we take sides to liberate a c ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Sally rated it liked it
This book is really long. I know that some ppl are afraid to read it in case they are left forever traumatized by the gore, but it's not actually that shocking because he doesn't focus on the blood and guts very much, and when he does mention them, i found that they were too hard to imagine to shake me up. Mostly, he described the actual progress of the UNIMIR from his point of view as the military pooh-bah of the mission. I thought the most interesting thing was de-mystifying how a peacekeeping ...more
Renée Doiron
This is a 2 star book in my opinion. This rating is not representative of the man himself, the suffering he and his colleagues endured, or the importance of learning from the Rwandan atrocities. I am giving this book two stars because it was a prohibitive read in the sense that I felt as though I was sitting in a DND war room reviewing the commander's post mortem briefing. Much too long, much too detailed, and entirely too many acronyms for the average reader. It's a shame that the editor didn't ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Bridget rated it really liked it
Dallaire's words are powerful and exceptionally important in our ever-shrinking world. His strength is admirable-how he got through the telling of his experiences in Rwanda, is a marvel. He is dignified, honest, and humble in the telling. This is a must-read for anyone interested in foreign policy matters of the West.
Erik Graff
Sep 12, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: A.M.
Shelves: biography
This is one of the most emotionally impressive books I've ever read, probably the first memoir of a soldier which actually made me imagine that a military career might be an honorable one. Roméo Dallaire combines autobiography with an account of his leadership of the undersupported UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda, a tragically transformative experience which he describes with engaging honesty.
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Lieutenant-General The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, O.C., C.M.M., G.O.C, M.S.C., C.D., (Retired), Senator, has had a distinguished career in the Canadian military, achieving the rank of Lieutenant-General and becoming Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources) in the Department of National Defence in 1998. In 1994, General Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAM ...more
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“I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.” 39 likes
“Many signs point to the fact that the youth of the Third World will no longer tolerate living in circumstances that give them no hope for the future. From the young boys I met in the demobilization camps in Sierra Leone to the suicide bombers of Palestine and Chechnya, to the young terrorists who fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we can no longer afford to ignore them. We have to take concrete steps to remove the causes of their rage, or we have to be prepared to suffer the consequences.” 12 likes
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