Roger DeBlanck's Reviews > An Ordinary Man

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina
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Feb 01, 12

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 happened before the blind eyes of the world. Even as warnings of the impending slaughter circulated widely in the international community, the U.N. stood down and allowed ethnic Hutus to murder their neighbors, ethnic Tutsis and also moderate Hutus. Gangs of militias, the Interahamwe, roamed the country with machetes and hacked to death over 800,000 of their countrymen. As Rusesabagina reflects in his autobiography, the end result was the fastest and most efficient mass killing in the history of the world. When the violence erupted and lasted for one-hundred days, Rusesabagina was manager of the prestigious Mille Collines Hotel in downtown Kigali. He used diplomacy, manipulation, and brides to keep the Interahamwe from storming the hotel where he sheltered 1,268 people from the raging massacre that went on just outside the property’s fences. Rusesabagina speaks candidly that he was no more heroic than other Rwandans who gave asylum to the innocent against the murderers. He views what he did as no different from what any ordinary person with a conscience would have done to save human life. The extraordinary aspect of his story, however, is that he lived to tell it. He admits how he believed several times he would be executed. His autobiography is part personal family narrative, part historical primer, but mostly it is firsthand witness testimony to the crimes in his homeland during its darkest hour. He conveys the shame and disgust he felt for his countrymen who turned the hatred of centuries past into a rallying call for extermination. He also delivers harsh criticism against the U.N., the U.S., and the rest of the international community for not acting. Finally, he writes with tremendous compassion to pay remembrance and homage to the countless victims.

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