Jean Tessier's Reviews > J'ai serré la main du diable

J'ai serré la main du diable by Roméo Dallaire
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Oct 02, 11

bookshelves: leisure
Read in January, 2008

A very raw first person account of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda,
as seen by the military commander of the UN peacekeeping mission
in place at the time. Dallaire does not try to over-analyze
everything or conjecture what everybody was thinking or not at the
time. He simply tells of his experience in Rwanda, what he saw,
what he heard, and what he felt.

Dallaire is a French Canadian who grew up in Montréal,
torn between English- and French-speaking factions of youth, trying
to rise through the ranks of a Canadian military that was decidedly
condescending to French speakers. But he was definitely not
prepared for the challenge that he would face in Rwanda; one of
which is his tendency to assume the best of intentions from people
and his expectation that everybody wants to coexist peacefully.

One downside to this first-person testimony style of writing is
that the book abandons the story of Rwanda as soon as Dallaire
leaves Africa. He makes just a few allusions to "what happenned
afterward," but I had to go to Wikipedia to find out what came of
many of the players in post-genocide Rwanda. In the opening of the
book, Dallaire said he would not presume to analyze the situation
in Rwanda or probe the hearts of the principal players, but would
simply testify to what he had seen and what he had heard and what
he had done. He delivers with zeal on this promise.
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