A Look at Genocide, Part 3: Rwanda Book Recommendations

In April 1994, the Rwandan government executed one of the swiftest and bloodiest genocides in world history when the Hutu majority killed more than 800,000 Tutsi’s in just three months. When people said, “Never again” after the Nazi Holocaust, I suppose they didn’t really mean it as many of the world powers did nothing to stop this tragedy from occurring. Following is a book list of recommendations about the Rwandan genocide. It is by no means complete or exhaustive but should give you a good starting point to research this travesty in our recent history.

A Look at Genocide: Rwanda Book Recommendations is part three in my current series in exploring genocide through book recommendations. Other posts from this series include:

  1. General Reference about Genocide Book Recommendations
  2. Darfur Book Recommendations


Book Cover:  Left to Tell by Immaculee IlibagizaLeft to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

From the publisher: This is my story, told as I remember it … and I remember it as though it happened yesterday. It’s a true story; I use my own name and the names of my family. This is the story of how I discovered God during one of history’s bloodiest holocausts. I wrote this book hoping that others may benefit from my story.—Immaculee Ilibagiza

In the spring of 1994, more than one million people were murdered in the Rwandan genocide. This is the story of how Immaculee survived certain death, along with seven other women, by hiding in a very small bathroom for more than 3 months. Day after day, for months, the killers would search nearby – gleefully chanting “kill them big, kill them small, kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

With uncommon sincerity, Immaculee shares with us her soul’s struggle through disbelief to anger and rage and, ultimately, forgiveness. She is living proof of the power of prayer and positive thinking.

Visit my review including videos of Left to Tell here. This was one of the most important books I’ve read this year. Visit www.lefttotell.com for more information.


Book Cover:  We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Familes:  Stories from Rwanda by Philip GourevitchWe Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

From the publisher: Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy’s background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath. One of the most acclaimed books of the year, this account will endure as a chilling document of our time.


Book Cover:  The Rwanda Crisis by Gerard PrunierThe Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide by Gérard Prunier

From the publisher: In the spring of 1994 the tiny African nation of Rwanda exploded onto the international media stage, as internal strife reached genocidal proportions. But the horror that unfolded before our eyes had been building steadily for years before it captured the attention of the world.

In The Rwanda Crisis, journalist and Africa scholar Gérard Prunier provides a historical perspective that Western readers need to understand how and why the brutal massacres of 800,000 Rwandese came to pass. Prunier shows how the events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic, a plan that served central political and economic interests, rather than a result of ancient tribal hatreds—a notion often invoked by the media to dramatize the fighting.

The Rwanda Crisis makes great strides in dispelling the racist cultural myths surrounding the people of Rwanda, views propogated by European colonialists in the nineteenth century and carved into “history” by Western influence. Prunier demonstrates how the struggle for cultural dominance and subjugation among the Hutu and Tutsi—the central players in the recent massacres—was exploited by racially obsessed Europeans. He shows how Western colonialists helped to construct a Tutsi identity as a superior racial type because of their distinctly “non-Negro” features in order to facilitate greater control over the Rwandese.

Expertly leading readers on a journey through the troubled history of the country and its surroundings, Prunier moves from the pre-colonial Kingdom of Rwanda, though German and Belgian colonial regimes, to the 1973 coup. The book chronicles the developing refugee crisis in Rwanda and neighboring Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s and offers the most comprehensive account available of the manipulations of popular sentiment that led to the genocide and the events that have followed.

In the aftermath of this devastating tragedy, The Rwanda Crisis is the first clear-eyed analysis available to American readers. From the massacres to the subsequent cholera epidemic and emerging refugee crisis, Prunier details the horrifying events of recent years and considers propsects for the future of Rwanda.


Book Cover:  Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century by Alain DestexheRwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century by Alain Destexhe

From the publisher: The horrific slaughter in Rwanda has once again driven home the deeply rooted existence and continuing presence of genocidal impulses. In this passionately argued volume-first published to great acclaim in France and considerably updated during the translation process-a deeply involved witness of the massacres takes an unflinching look at recent events in Rwanda and what they can tell us about the nature of genocide.


Book Cove:  A People Betrayed:  The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide by Linda MelvernA People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide by Linda Melvern

From the publisher: In Rwanda in 1994 one million people were killed in a planned, public and political campaign. For six years Linda Melvern has worked on the story of this horrendous crime, and this book, a classic piece of investigative journalism, is the result. Its new and startling information has the making of an international scandal.

The book contains a full narrative account of how the genocide unfolded and describes its scale, speed and intensity. And the book provides a terrible indictment, not just of the UN Security Council, but even more so of governments and individuals who could have prevented what was happening but chose not to do so.

Drawing on a series of in-depth interviews, the author also tells the story of the unrecognized heroism of those who stayed on during the genocide – volunteer UN peacekeepers, their Force Commander the Canadian Lt.-General Romeo A. Dallaire, and Philippe Gaillard, the head of a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, helped by medical teams from Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The international community, which fifty years ago resolved that genocide never happened again, not only failed to prevent it happening in Rwanda, but, as this book shows, international funds intended to help the Rwandan economy actually helped to create the conditions that made the genocide possible. Documents held in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, as well as hitherto unpublished evidence of secret UN Security Council deliberations in New York, reveal a shocking sequence of events.

What happened in Rwanda shows that despite the creation of an organisation set up to prevent a repetition of genocide – for the UN is central to this task – it failed to do so, even when the evidence was indisputable. At a time when increasing attention is being given to the need for UN reform, this book provides evidence to urgently accelerate and focus that process. Only by understanding how and why the genocide happened can there be any hope that this new century will break with the dismal record of the last.

Linda Melvern’s website.


Book Cove:  Season of Blood by Fergel KeaneSeason of Blood: A Rwandan Journey by Fergal Keane

From the publisher: Season of Blood was awarded Britain’s prestigious Orwell Prize for the best political book of 1995. Fergal Keane is the recipient of the 1995 Amnesty International Award for Best International Television Documentary. In 1994 he was named Sony Reporter of the Year at the New York Festival of Radio. When Rwandan president Habyarimana’s jet was shot down in April 1994, the country erupted into a hundred-day orgy of killing which left up to one million dead. Now, following the lines of blood and history, Fergal Keane takes us right along with him on a journey through the holocaust that preempted our television screens. Season of Blood is a veteran Africanist’s deeply personal and elucidating account of ordinary people caught in a nightmare of manipulation and massacre, an encounter with unimaginable evil. Contradicting the popular assumption that the genocide erupted as a result of tribal tensions, Keane demonstrates how a power-hungry clique actually planned the massacres far in advance through a systematic campaign of brainwashing and propaganda delivered with a precision not seen since Nazi Germany. Harrowing, searching, and tender, this overpowering narrative asks profound human questions for which we have no answers.


Book Cover:  The Order of Genocide by Scott StrausThe Order of Genocide: Race, Power and War in Rwanda by Scott Straus

From the publisher: The Rwandan genocide has become a touchstone for debates about the causes of mass violence and the responsibilities of the international community. Yet a number of key questions about this tragedy remain unanswered: How did the violence spread from community to community and so rapidly engulf the nation? Why did individuals make decisions that led them to take up machetes against their neighbors? And what was the logic that drove the campaign of extermination?

According to Scott Straus, a social scientist and former journalist in East Africa for several years (who received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his reporting for the Houston Chronicle), many of the widely held beliefs about the causes and course of genocide in Rwanda are incomplete. They focus largely on the actions of the ruling elite or the inaction of the international community. Considerably less is known about how and why elite decisions became widespread exterminatory violence.

Challenging the prevailing wisdom, Straus provides substantial new evidence about local patterns of violence, using original research—including the most comprehensive surveys yet undertaken among convicted perpetrators—to assess competing theories about the causes and dynamics of the genocide. Current interpretations stress three main causes for the genocide: ethnic identity, ideology, and mass-media indoctrination (in particular the influence of hate radio). Straus’s research does not deny the importance of ethnicity, but he finds that it operated more as a background condition. Instead, Straus emphasizes fear and intra-ethnic intimidation as the primary drivers of the violence. A defensive civil war and the assassination of a president created a feeling of acute insecurity. Rwanda’s unusually effective state was also central, as was the country’s geography and population density, which limited the number of exit options for both victims and perpetrators.

In conclusion, Straus steps back from the particulars of the Rwandan genocide to offer a new, dynamic model for understanding other instances of genocide in recent history—the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, the Balkans—and assessing the future likelihood of such events.


Book Cover:  Eyewitness to a Genocide by Micael BarnettEyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda by Michael Barnett

From the publisher: Why was the UN a bystander during the Rwandan genocide? Do its sins of omission leave it morally responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dead? Michael Barnett, who worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 1993 to 1994, covered Rwanda for much of the genocide. Based on his first-hand experiences, archival work, and interviews with many key participants, he reconstructs the history of the UN’s involvement in Rwanda.

In the weeks leading up to the genocide, the author documents, the UN was increasingly aware or had good reason to suspect that Rwanda was a site of crimes against humanity. Yet it failed to act. Barnett argues that its indifference was driven not by incompetence or cynicism but rather by reasoned choices cradled by moral considerations. Employing a novel approach to ethics in practice and in relationship to international organizations, Barnett offers an unsettling possibility: the UN culture recast the ethical commitments of well-intentioned individuals, arresting any duty to aid at the outset of the genocide.

Barnett argues that the UN bears some moral responsibility for the genocide. Particularly disturbing is his observation that not only did the UN violate its moral responsibilities, but also that many in New York believed that they were “doing the right thing” as they did so. Barnett addresses the ways in which the Rwandan genocide raises a warning about this age of humanitarianism and concludes by asking whether it is possible to build moral institutions.


Book cover:  Genocide in RwandaGenocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory By John A. Berry and Carol Pott Berry

From the publisher: Ten years after one of the world’s most notorious massacres, the people of Rwanda are still seeking answers and justice. How could such a tragedy happen? During the hundred days between early April and mid-July 1994, nearly a million Rwandans were systematically murdered by their own compatriots at the order of their government. Their only crime: being a member of the Tutsi ethnic group. Told in the voices of Rwandans who survived, Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory offers a comprehensive examination of the cyclical violence and culture of impunity that ended in a modern-day catastrophe. The book draws heavily from transcripts of a 1995 conference in Kigali, in which Rwandans spoke out about their experiences and the horrible scenes they had witnessed.

Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory is intended for general readers interested in an analysis of the events in Rwanda, the role of ethnicity and politics in Africa, and the related activities of the United Nations and the international community. It is also for those concerned with human rights and humanitarian actions in general.


Book Cover:  Machete Season, The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Jean HatzfeldMachete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld

During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated. As Susan Sontag wrote in the preface,Machete Season is a document that “everyone should read . . . [because making] the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda . . . is part of being a moral adult.”


Book Cover:  Life Laid Bare The Survivors in Rwanda Speak by Jean HatzfeldLife Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld

From the publisher: In the late 1990s, French author and journalist Jean Hatzfeld made several journeys into the hilly, marshy region of the Bugesera, one of the areas most devastated by the Rwandan genocide of April 1994, where an average of five out of six Tutsis were hacked to death with machete and spear by their Hutu neighbors and militiamen. In the villages of Nyamata and N’tarama, Hatzfeld interviewed fourteen survivors of the genocide, from orphan teenage farmers to the local social worker. For years the survivors had lived in a muteness as enigmatic as the silence of those who survived the Nazi concentration camps. In Life Laid Bare, they speak for those who are no longer alive to speak for themselves; they tell of the deaths of family and friends in the churches and marshes to which they fled, and they attempt to account for the reasons behind the Tutsi extermination. For many of the survivors “life has broken down,” while for others, it has “stopped,” and still others say that it “absolutely must go on.”

These horrific accounts of life at the very edge contrast with Hatzfeld’s own sensitive and vivid descriptions of Rwanda’s villages and countryside in peacetime. These voices of courage and resilience exemplify the indomitable human spirit, and they remind us of our own moral responsibility to bear witness to these atrocities and to never forget what can come to pass again. Winner of the Prix France Culture and the Prix Pierre Mille, Life Laid Bare allows us, in the author’s own words, “to draw as close as we can get to the Rwandan genocide.”


Book Cover:  Genocide in RwandaGenocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches By Carol Rittner, John K. Roth, Wendy Whitworth

From the publisher: In 1994, genocide put Rwanda on the map for most of the world. It also exposed one of the most shameful scandals of the Rwandan churches—the complicity of the Christian churches in the genocide. These are strong words to use when speaking about an institution committed to preaching and practicing Jesus’ “two great commandments”—Thou shalt love the Lord your God with your whole heart and mind, and thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself—and yet, they need to be said. Why? Because Rwanda is the most Christian country in Africa. More than 90% of its people are baptized Christians, with the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches having the greatest number of adherents (65% and 20% respectively).

According to Hugh McCullum, a journalist who has written about the 1994 genocide, “The genocide shook the very foundation of the churches: none remained without blood on its hands.”

According to Archbishop Desmond, “The story of Rwanda shows both sides of our humanity. The churches were sometimes quite superb in what they did in the face of intimidation and at great cost to themselves. But there were other times when [they] failed dismally and seemed to be implicated in ways that have left many disillusioned, disgruntled and angry with the churches and their leadership, Many have been alienated and feel badly betrayed.”

What is it that happened in Rwanda between April and July 1994 that has left so many Rwandans “disillusioned, disgruntled and angry with the churches and their leadership”?

Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches provides a variety of perspectives through which to assess the complex questions and issues surrounding the topic, and, even raise some new questions that could provide some new insight into this historical event. Contributors have tried to face as carefully, sensitively, and honestly as possible some of the questions about the Church and 1994 genocide in Rwanda many have been asking in the media, and in other places as well. For example, Why were priests ethno-biased? Why did the churches allow clerics to preach ethno-hatred? Did they? What about the nuns and priests who assisted in the killing of Tutsis? Did the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope or the Vatican or did the Church of England — the two Christian denominations with the largest number of adherents — speak out against them? Did the Church protect, reprimand, punish, excommunicate their adherents — clergy, religious, and lay — who were genocidaires before, during, and after the 1994 genocide? Were leaders in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, at the highest levels, active or passive? informed or ignorant about what was happening in Rwanda in 1994? Did God have any witnesses during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? Has anything changed? Do the Churches have a moral duty to engage in tikkun olam, healing and repair? If so, how? If not, why not?

These, are only some of the questions and they are questions we must ask for the sake of the future. Otherwise, how can the Church, its members and its leadership, begin to make moral restitution, begin to change structures and behaviors, and once again reveal the human face of God in our fragile world?


Book Cover:  One Hundred Days of Silence by Jared CohenOne Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide by Jared A. Cohen

From the publisher: One Hundred Days of Silence is an important investigation into the 1994 Rwandan genocide and American foreign policy. During one hundred days of spring, eight-hundred thousand Rwandan Tutsis and sympathetic Hutus were slaughtered in one of the most atrocious events of the twentieth century. Drawing on declassified documents and testimony of policy makers, Jared Cohen critically reconstructs the historical account of tacit policy that led to nonintervention. His analysis examines the questions of what the United States knew about the genocide and how the world’s most powerful nation turned a blind eye. The study reveals the ease at which an administration can not only fail to intervene but also silence discussion of the crisis. The book argues that despite the extent of the genocide the American government was not motivated to act due to a lack of economic interest. With precision and passion, One Hundred Days of Silence frames the debate surrounding this controversial history.


Book Cover:  The Media and the Rwanda Genocide by Allan ThompsonThe Media and the Rwanda Genocide by Allan Thompson

The news media played a crucial role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide: local media fueled the killings, while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued what was happening.

This is the first book to explore both sides of that media equation. The book examines how local radio and print media were used as a tool of hate by encouraging neighbors to turn against each other. It also presents a critique of international media coverage of the cataclysmic events in Rwanda. Bringing together local reporters and commentators from Rwanda, high-profile Western journalists and leading media theorists, this is the only book to identify and probe the extent of the media’s accountability. It also examines deliberations by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the role of the media in the genocide.

This book is a startling record of the dangerous negative influence that the media can have, when used as a political tool or when news organizations and journalists fail to live up to their responsibilities. The authors put forward suggestions for the future by outlining how we can avoid censorship and propaganda, and by arguing for a new responsibility in media reporting.


Book Cover:  This Voice in My Heart by Gilbert TuhabonyeThis Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness by Gilbert Tuhabonye and Gary Brozek

From the publisher: “With nowhere to run, I burrowed my way underneath a smoking mound of bodies.” Gilbert Tuhabonye is a survivor. More than ten years ago the centuries-old battle between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes of Africa came to his school. Fueled by hatred, the Hutus forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a small room and used machetes to slash most of them to death. The unfortunate ones who survived were doused with gasoline and set on fire. After hiding under a heap of his smoldering classmates for more than eight hours, Gilbert heard a voice saying, “You will be all right; you will survive.” He knew it was God speaking to him. Gilbert was the lone survivor of the attack at his school, and thanks his enduring faith in God for his survival.

Today, Gilbert is a world-class athlete, running coach, and celebrity in his new hometown of Austin, Texas. The road to this point has been a tough one, but he uses his survival instincts to spur him on to the goal of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic summer games. This Voice in My Heart portrays not only the horrific event, but the transformative power of real forgiveness and the gift of faith in God. This riveting story will touch you from its first page and offer inspiration for years to come.


Book Cover:  The Bishop of RwandaThe Bishop of Rwanda by John Rucyahana

From the publisher: In 1994, as his country descended into the madness of genocide, Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana underwent the mind-numbing pain of having members of his church and family butchered. John refused to become a part of the systemic hatred. He founded the Sonrise orphanage and school for children orphaned in the genocide, and he now leads reconciliation efforts between his own Tutsi people, the victims of this horrific massacre, and the perpetrators, the Hutus. His remarkable story is one that demands to be told.


Book Cover:  An Ordinary Man by Paul ResesabaginaAn Ordinary Man: An Autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina and Tom Zoellner

From the publisher: The remarkable life story of the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda

Readers who were moved and horrified by Hotel Rwanda will respond even more intensely to Paul Rusesabagina’s unforgettable autobiography. As Rwanda was thrown into chaos during the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, turned the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees, while fending off their would-be killers with a combination of diplomacy and deception. In An Ordinary Man, he tells the story of his childhood, retraces his accidental path to heroism, revisits the 100 days in which he was the only thing standing between his “guests” and a hideous death, and recounts his subsequent life as a refugee and activist.


Book Cover:  Rwanda Means the UniverseRwanda Means the Universe: A Native’s Memoir of Blood and Bloodlines by Louise Mushikiwabo and Jack Kramer

From the publisher: Mushikiwabo is a Rwandan working as a translator in Washington when she learns that most of her family back home has been killed in a conspiracy meticulously planned by the state. First comes shock, then aftershock, three months of it, during which her worst fears are confirmed: The same state apparatus has duped millions of Rwandans into butchering nearly a million of their neighbors.

Years earlier, her brother Lando wrote her a letter she never got until now. Urged on by it, she rummages into their farm childhood, and into family corners alternately dark, loving, and humorous. She searches for stray mementos of the lost, then for their roots. What she finds is that and more—hints, roots, of the 1994 crime that killed her family. Her narrative takes the reader on a journey from the days the world and Rwanda discovered each other back to colonial period when pseudoscientific ideas about race put the nation on a highway bound for the 1994 genocide.

Seven years of full-time collaboration by two writers—and the faith of family and friends—went into this emotionally charged work. Rwanda Means the Universe is at once a celebration of the lives of the lost and homage to their past, but it’s no comfortable tribute. It’s an expression of dogged hope in the face of modern evil.


Book Cover:  Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire and Samantha PowerShake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Roméo Dallaire and Samantha Power

From the publisher: For the first time in the United States comes the tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who “watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect.” When Roméo Dallaire was called on to serve as force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, he believed that his assignment was to help two warring parties achieve the peace they both wanted. Instead, he was exposed to the most barbarous and chaotic display of civil war and genocide in the past decade, observing in just one hundred days the killings of more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans. With only a few troops, his own ingenuity and courage to direct his efforts, Dallaire rescued thousands, but his call for more support from the world body fell on deaf ears. In Shake Hands with the Devil, General Dallaire recreates the awful history the world community chose to ignore. He also chronicles his own progression from confident Cold Warrior to devastated UN commander, and finally to retired general struggling painfully, and publicly, to overcome posttraumatic stress disorder—the highest-ranking officer ever to share such experiences with readers.


Book Cover:  Deogratias by J. P Stassen and Alexis SiegelDeogratias, a Tale of Rwanda by J. P. Stassen and Alexis Siegel

From the publisher: The 2000 winner of the Goscinny Prize for outstanding graphic novel script, this is the harrowing tale of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, as seen through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias. He is an ordinary teenager, in love with a girl named Bénigne, but Deogratias is a Hutu and Bénigne is a Tutsi who dies in the genocide, and Deogratias himself plays a part in her death. As the story circles around but never depicts the terror and brutality of an entire country descending into violence, we watch Deogratias in his pursuit of Bénigne, and we see his grief and descent into madness following her death, as he comes to believe he is a dog.

Told with great artistry and intelligence, this book offers a window into a dark chapter of recent human history and exposes the West’s role in the tragedy. Stassen’s interweaving of the aftermath of the genocide and the events leading up to it heightens the impact of the horror, giving powerful expression to the unspeakable, indescribable experience of ordinary Hutus caught up in the violence. Difficult, beautiful, honest, and heartbreaking, this is a major work by a masterful artist.


DVD Cover:  Hotel RwandaHotel Rwanda (DVD 2005)

From Amazon:: Once you find out what happened in Rwanda you’ll never forget. Oscar® nominee Don Cheadle (Traffic) gives “the performance of his career in this extraordinarily powerful” (The Hollywood Reporter) and moving true story of one man’s brave stance against savagery during the 1994 Rwandan conflict. Sophie Okonedo (Dirty Pretty Things) co-stars as the loving wife who challenges a good man to become a great man.As his country descends into madness five-star-hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle) sets out to save his family. But when he sees that the world will not intervene in the massacre of minority Tutsis he finds the courage to open his hotel to more than 1200 refugees. Now with a rabid militia at the gates he must use his well-honed grace flattery and cunning to protect his guests from certain death.

I love this movie. Very touching.


DVD Cover:  Frontline, Ghosts of RwandaFrontline: Ghosts of Rwanda (DVD 2004)

From Amazon: Frontline marks the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide with a documentary chronicling one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In addition to interviews with key government officials and diplomats, the two-hour documentary offers eyewitness accounts of the genocide from those who experienced it firsthand. Frontline illustrates the failures that enabled the slaughter of 800,000 people to occur unchallenged by the global community.


DVD Cover:  Sometimes in AprilSometimes in April (DVD 2005)

In April 1994 one of the most heinous genocides in world history began in the African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days an estimated 800000 people were killed in a terrifying purge by Hutu nationalists against their Tutsi countrymen. This harrowing HBO Films drama focuses on the almost indescribable human atrocities that took place a decade ago through the story of two Hutu brothers–one in the military one a radio personality–whose relationship and private lives were forever changed in the midst of the genocide. Written and directed by Raoul Peck (HBO Films’ Lumumba) the movie is the first large-scale film about the 100 days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be shot in Rwanda in the locations where the real-life events transpired.


DVD Cover:  The Diary of ImmaculeeThe Diary of Immaculee (DVD 2006)

From Amazon: Immaculaee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Her family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Miraculously, Immaculaee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s home while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. . . .

Now, the award-winning and three-time Academy Award-nominated documentary film producer Steve Kalafer (More, Curtain Call, Bottom of the Ninth, Price of Freedom, Going Home, and Sister Rose’s Passion) brings together the same creative and production team for their most challenging and powerful cinematic journey. The Diary of Immaculaee reveals the horrific, yet inspiring story of a remarkable woman’s experiences in the midst of one of history’s most tragic events. Immaculaee Ilibagiza, and others who were there, will tell you what happened . . . and you shall never forget it.

With powerful and emotional on-camera appearances from the good Samaritans who kept Immaculaee alive in Rwanda, to inspirational personalities such as Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Carl Wilkens, this amazing story of a journey through the darkness of holocaust will touch your heart and soul. This is a documentary that will take you to a place where horror and hope and hatred and love lived side by side, clasping hands and breathing the same air. With unwavering faith and courage, one young woman faced the threat of unspeakable acts; endured incomparable despair; and quietly, graciously, and bravely came through the living hell of holocaust searching for safety, peace, and an everlasting Heaven.

The Diary of Immaculaee is a film that abounds with drama and compassion . . . and makes us all realize that heroes and heroines will always walk among us.

Visit my review including videos of Left to Tell here.


Rwanda:  Do Scars Ever Fade?Rwanda: Do Scars Ever Fade? (DVD – 2004)

From Amazon: This incisive look at the genocide and its aftermath raises new questions about how we can keep such tragedies from recurring.


DVD Cover: Beyond the GatesBeyond the Gates (DVD 2005)

From Amazon: Based on true events during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 an exhausted Catholic priest (John Hurt) and a young idealistic English teacher (Hugh Dancy) find themselves caught in a literal and spiritual crisis. They have to choose whether to stay with the thousands of Tutsis about to be massacred or to flee for safety.


Visit Rwanda: The Wake of a Genocide as a jumping point for more information. You may purchase any of these titles through the Maw Books Amazon store.

Books that caught my eye and I’d like to read are We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch, Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld , Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld, An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina and Tom Zoellnerand I’d like to watch Sometimes in April.


  1. Thanks for putting together this list, Natasha. I’ve got Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory in my TBR pile, and now I’d like to add a few more of these as well. I read We Wish to Inform You… last year. It is truly an excellent book; I can’t recommend it enough. My review is here, but certainly don’t feel obligated to read it.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 6:12 am
  2. Great list. I’ve had Left to Tell on my TBR list for some time but need to recover from reading We Wish to Inform You…. What a powerful book. My review is here.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 6:42 am
  3. 800,000 people in 3 months? That is just heartbreakingly unbelievable. I am going to have to look for some of these titles.
    Thanks for putting these lists together.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 8:56 am
  4. I really wish I had the time to give your descriptions of these books a better look, but I’m jotting down some titles to look further into. I still need to read The Translator, which is still sitting on my shelf. Thanks for these lists–and keeping us informed and aware.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 11:02 am
  5. I’ll have to check out a few of these. It’s just so amazingly horrible that these things happen. It’s hard to believe, and I’m sure that there are tons of people out there that still have no idea about these atrocities. I’m glad you’re spreading awareness.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 2:14 pm
  6. I will have to read these, I wanted to tell you about another wonderful book I just reviewed called Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. It is told from the persective of children and is heartbreaking. You can read my review on my website.

    on June 11th, 2008 at 5:47 pm
  7. Just an overwhelming atrocity. You’ve put together an amazing list here. I’ve seen the first two movies that you listed, and have Life Laid Bare on the way from a bookmooch.

    on June 12th, 2008 at 6:07 am
  8. I read ‘Left to Tell’ and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe what Immaculee went through.

    on June 17th, 2008 at 12:20 am
  9. [...] ignorant and which has piked my curiosity to learn more. Which is why you will soon see the fourth installment of book recommendations on genocide cover this [...]

    on July 22nd, 2008 at 5:13 pm
  10. [...] more reading suggestions on the genocide in Rwanda, visit my book list here. Read my book review of Left to Tell:  Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee [...]

    on August 29th, 2008 at 9:54 pm
  11. Thank you very much for gathering and sharing such a great list of books and films on this horrendous genocide.

    I’ve just seen the film Shooting Dogs and will higly recommend it to anyone.

    There are two books I recently have read, they’re not about Rwanda, but are about the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Somalia, and I found them highly interesting, so I’ll post them here.

    They are – “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    and – “A LONG WAY GONE: MEMOIRS OF A BOY SOLDIER” by Ishmael Beah

    I agree with Buddha when he said that ignorance is the worst of the three poisons, desire, hatred and ignorance. And once we know, we must take responsibility for our knowledge.

    on February 5th, 2009 at 3:13 pm
  12. Another one for the list: “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda.” It’s Human Rights Watch’s report on the genocide, and clocking in at 700+ pages, it is the most accurate, detailed account of the genocide available. It was written by Alison Des Forges, one of the premier experts on Rwanda, who tragically died when her commercial flight crashed over Buffalo last month.

    Unfortunately, the book has fallen out of print, but it is still available from used booksellers, and Human Rights Watch has the contents up on their website at http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/rwanda/ I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn about the genocide.

    on March 12th, 2009 at 2:13 am
  13. Dear Rwanda,

    In reference to the Tutsi community and countless other communities.

    Civilocity is a form of government where the people watch the ruler entirely amongst their reign. Civilocity is for the people so the people don’t allow their country to attack a person because of their ethnic background, religion, race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation which has happened countless times in history, including today, resulting in millions of lives being lost.

    The phonetic pronunciation of civilocity is civ-il-o-cit-y (siv’?l’ä’sit’?). The definition of Civilocity is a form of government where the people watch the ruler entirely amongst their reign. The exact definition of “Civilocity” is, ‘literally, behaving in the dwelling’. The meaning is derived from the Latin term civilis (‘civil’), the Middle English term o (‘o‘), and the Medieval Latin term civitat (‘city’) in the early part of the 21st century to improve the political systems existing in some American city-states, notably Washington, DC. In developing this philosophy, my hope is to ensure that the ruler doesn’t usurp the power of the country for themselves at the expense of the people.

    I just imagine the products of civilocity compared to the products of democracy. Having a human with law would be more intelligent than picking a human without. That’s civilocity compared to democracy. Which one is the better form of government? Civilocity, as a form of government, is going to change the world.

    It is one thing to believe in something its another to speak out for something. I am interested in continuing to discuss ways to make sure a holocaust for a person of any ethnic background never happens again and look forward to hearing your responses.

    Don’t wait until it is to late.

    Nathaniel Isaac Wenger

    on March 22nd, 2010 at 2:12 pm
  14. I juat wanted to share another resource. Please go to http://www.mediastorm.org and look for the peice called Intended Consequences, by film maker, Jonathan Torgnovik. beautiful, fine art still lifes of Tutsi rape victims and their children born out of those violent events. Torgnovik made a very respectful, deeply thoughtful documentary in partnership with these women.

    on April 24th, 2010 at 6:17 am

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