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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  10,734 ratings  ·  666 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 Lt-Ge
Paperback, 562 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published October 21st 2003)
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Feb 01, 2009 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
Nov 01, 2011 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.
Mar 15, 2009 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.
Igor Ljubuncic
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal, infuriating, disgusting.

This is a sad masterpiece.

The whole book is one giant j'accuse.

It's a personal story of General Dallaire, a French Canadian, who briefly shares with us his early life in segregated Quebec before going into his tribulation, day by day, through the genocide in Rwanda. One hundred days where he tried to prevent the catastrophe, while he tried to jungle the political, humanitarian and military mess surrounding him and his small team of UN peacekeepers.

The book is
Mikey B.
Nov 12, 2012 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
Sylvain Reynard
Jan 21, 2012 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
William Cline
Jul 20, 2011 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
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
The Maze of Liberal Interventionism...

--Note: June 17, 2020, Canada lost its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This review provides hints to why...
--Looking back, this was one of the first nonfiction I read after my apolitical university years. Given my apolitical Western education, I was a default centrist, in the sense that I inherited the liberal centrist worldview (i.e. bias towards rich, "free", "peaceful", "developed" countries, thus missing the structures o
Ian G
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*Reposting Accidentally Deleted Review* (Duh!) *Updated- corrects spelling *

The genocide in Rwanda, one of the great tragedies of the late Twentieth Century, is remarkable because it unfolded in plain view and yet there was no international humanitarian effort made to stop it. Romeo Dallaire was the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force (UNAMIR) in Rwanda and watched this "failure of humanity" unfold from a front row seat. After arriving in country Dallaire soon realizes the situati
Steve Wehling
Feb 15, 2008 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 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 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 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.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sorry guys, but to be honest with you - I still do not understand why they didn't do anything!
Mar 10, 2011 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
Michael Blackmer
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This is a must read if one wants to understand just how badly the leadership of the world let Rwanda and UN Peacekeepers down during the Genocide. I had to put this book down several times and then return to it because I would get so angry and disappointed in how support was nonexistent for people being exterminated in Rwanda and for the multi-national peacekeepers who put their lives on the line (or lost their lives) to do what they could in spite of the lack of support from headquarters in New ...more
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
Shourie Bannai
Apr 13, 2012 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
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
Apr 16, 2011 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
Regina Lindsey
Sep 27, 2012 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
Jan 24, 2009 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
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
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book in December 2017 and in June 2018 I still can't help but keep thinking about it. This book contains many parts, all of which are compelling. Its Canada and Canadians on the world stage in modernity. It's the effects of colonialism and racism on struggling sub saharan Africa. And most importantly it's a story of a UN peace corps facing challenges, hardships and interactions with a disinterested bureaucracy that blends into a hellish monotony whose routine is interrupted by moment ...more
Sandy Ferguson
Dec 30, 2009 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
4.5 stars

Romeo Dallaire was in charge of the Peacekeeping initiative in Rwanda in 1993. There was supposed to be an accord between two warring tribes, and the Peacekeepers were there to make sure everything was followed, and then pull out. Dallaire was working with limited resources and forces, as the UN and its' nations were more focused on Somalia and Croata/Bosnia/eastern Europe at the time. In spite of his team's best efforts at brokering and enforcing peace, Dallaire was on hand for the gen
Sep 10, 2016 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
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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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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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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.” 42 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.” 14 likes
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