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

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  29,982 ratings  ·  1,701 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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Patricia Kobusingye Sometimes you have to read more than two books to have the full picture of a situation. To understand the massacre of the Tutsi, you would have to und…moreSometimes you have to read more than two books to have the full picture of a situation. To understand the massacre of the Tutsi, you would have to understand the decades and systems that led up to it. I am not going to try to change you mind. But I will say this, the genocide in Rwanda was not about Paul Kagame. Hundreds of thousands of people died, thousands of rapes occurred, several children were orphaned. Each life lost cannot be reduced to which side should receive your sympathies.
When I was ten, I saw the hundreds of bloated bodies on the lake. As an adult, I had the honour of spending 8 years in Rwanda in my early 30s. When you see the scars, when you hear the stories. When you live in a nation with an evident gap of people of a certain age, It is almost ridiculous to pay mind to who the hero should be. (less)

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Jul 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I think too many people will find it easy to rubber-stamp a favorable opinion on this book and talk about how terrible the Rwandan genocide was and how this account really brings it to life. This overlooks the fact that this is honestly not a well-written book; just because it is a book about a historic atrocity still insufficiently understood by the West does not make it good.

The biggest shortcoming is that the book does not look deeply enough into the motives of the killers. The biggest takea
Faith M ✨
All at once, as it seemed, something we could have only imagined was upon us—and we could still only imagine it. This is what fascinates me most in existence: the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.

This was a very difficult book to read, and an even harder book to review. If it wasn't for my library's year-long reading challenge, and the prompt to "read a book written by a journalist", I never would have even picked this up. But I'm so glad I did, however horrible it was to r
It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere. ~ Primo Levi

How do you "rate" a book about genocide? On the merits of the reporting? On its "balanced" or "just" interpretation of history? On its tone or political slant? On the first-hand accounts presented? On your personal horror at both reading about what happened, and at probing the limits of your own ignorance? (How did I not know this?!)

The 5 stars is first an
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was fantastic. A blending of superb writing and journalistic skills, to tell both the individual and national stories of the Rwandan genocide. I was marking sections in my book to quote from, but I ended up with 20+ passages. It answered all of my own questions of how it happened, why international governments or agencies didn't step in to help and what happened afterwards. Essential reading. ...more
Emma Sea
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was astoundingly ignorant about what happened after the initial 100-day massacre. This isn't only my fault: Gourevitch shows how Western media - and governments - completely ignored and misrepresented what happened in Rwanda and Zaire. And you don't kill 1,000,000 humans in four weeks without huge long-term fallout. The median age in Rwanda is now 18 years, 43% of the population is aged 14 or under, and 63% of the country lives under the poverty line. 52% of children die before reaching 5 year ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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 book is a history of the genocide's background, a horrible account of what happened, and what it meant to survive the aftermath.

Belgians dispatched scientists to Rwanda when it was a colony. They measured Rwandan cranial c
Colleen Browne
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
There are many books available about the study of genocide and about the genocide in Rwanda. I have read several in both categories. The first was by Romeo DeLaire. For the first time I realized how truly ineffective the UN and the governments of the world can be. The indifference on the part of the world community during this time is indefensible. The people we are supposed to be able to trust to investigate and organize relief when tragedies happen were no where to be found. Romeo Delaire pled ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“What distinguishes genocide from murder, and even from acts of political murder that claim as many victims, is the intent. The crime is wanting to make a people extinct. The idea is the crime.”

What happened in Rwanda, 1994? The answer isn't as clear as one may think, and the questions that arise aren't simple either.

I'm so, so glad I read this book.

I'm too young to remember anything disasterous or political from the 90's and everything I've heard about Rwanda since 1994 has been from my o
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mikey B.
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it

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.
Sumit Singla
Gruesome. Horrific. Visceral. Disturbing. And even harrowing. These are some of the adjectives that come to mind when I think back about this book. I wish this had been fiction, and not cold, hard fact.

However, the truth remains that nearly a million HUMANs were pretty much hacked to death by other HUMANs, over a period of a 100 days. Imagine an orchestrated ethnic cleansing involving 10,000 murders a day. That's more people than 11 Airbus a380s can accommodate.

Staggering. And even after readin
Dec 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Realized I'd only read half of this so I'm finishing it this weekend. I feel like it was an experiment. But ppl call me a "conspiracy theorist." To me this was planned on high though. Very scary.

Excerpt from the book:

Even if not taking sides were a desirable position, it is impossible to act in or on a political situation without having a political effect (speaking about humanitarian aid organizations assisting the "refugees" [Hutu powers in exile aka genocidars] in the D.R.C.) The Humanitarian
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Amazing story of Rwandan genocide, still haunts me. Reminded of it by reading Stassen's equally haunting and disturbing Deogratias... ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Maria Fernanda Gama
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book, although very difficult to get through for its content, is an absolute must read for any human being. I feel ashamed that so much has happened, and still happens, in this world we share with so many different people, that I had absolutely no idea of. I've seen the movie "Hotel Rwanda" many years ago but I'll admit I've never really tried to understand what really happened there and just how devastating the genocide that took place there was for its entire population. When this happene ...more
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obligatory reading for all. We must wake up and start learning from history. At least read the book and try to understand what happened. Determining how many stars to give is impossible - I certainly did not "really like" the book! ...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mina’s Musings
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After every genocide, the international community bands together and screams "never again" repeatedly. From the Armenian genocide to the holocaust, we see the writing in the sand yet we do nothing to stop it.
The Rwanda genocide does not get as much attention as the holocaust because of the sentiment: " Africans are always killing each other"
This book sheds light on the historical context of the genocide and how extremists used the culture of obedience and high poverty rates to pit neighbor aga
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I admit that I did not know much about Rawanda's genocide before reading this book. I was a preteen when it occurred ibn the early 90s and global news wasn't really one of my life priorities.

So I learned so much from this account. All of it tragic and frustrating and hopeless. It made me ashamed of my country, for the United States' aggressive refusal to respond to a genocide. It made me wonder at the people of Rawanda, that they could be less into participating in a slaughter of nearly a milli
Oct 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like many others, I was interested to learn more about the genocide in Rwanda, and thought this highly rated book would be a good source. In my opinion, it failed to explain the genesis of the deep seated hatred by the Hutu tribe of the Tutsi tribe, and was extremely dry/dull. There was little connection with the characters: it felt like a textbook.

I thought The Girl Who Smiled Beads was much better.
Nandakishore Varma
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I picked up this book because it was highly rated, and I really was interested in the Rwandan massacre and why it happened. I thought it would give me some historical, sociological and psychological insights, as well as some human stories.

It did fill me in on the historical background: about how colonial forces created non-existed racial distinctions and placed one "race" above the other; about how various colonial powers meddled to pit their side against the other, and watched from the gallery
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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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