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Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda Paperback – September 1, 2000


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Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda + Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed + Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452282020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452282025
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you enjoyed Out of Africa and West with the Night, here's another amazing woman's story of her adventurous African life. Rosamond Halsey Carr left her job as a young New York City fashion illustrator in the 1940s to join her hunter-explorer husband in the Belgian Congo; after their divorce, she decided to stay on in neighboring Rwanda as the manager of a flower plantation. For the next 50 years she lived an extraordinary life, witnessing the fall of colonialism, the loss of her friend Dian Fossey, and the relentless clashes between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Although this book includes a poignant insider's account of the events surrounding the horrific 1994 genocide, it also provides a beautiful portrait of the Rwanda that was--and still is. After being evacuated during the genocide, Carr returned to Rwanda and, at age 82, rebuilt her home from the ground up, intent on opening a home for some 100 orphaned children.

Carr's humble tenacity and bold strength animate her historical, cultural, and personal accounts. Arriving in Africa in 1949, she witnesses the traditions of the royal Tutsi dynasty, sails up the Congo to camp in pygmy villages, encounters leopards, mingles with European aristocrats, finds and loses love, and lives through Congo independence and civil war. Her passion for the country and its people makes for a life story that is both tragic and hopeful, and full of interesting details that animate the spirit of Rwanda. --Kathryn True --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Fifty years ago, New Jersey socialite and fashion designer Rosamond Halsey Carr sailed from Brooklyn Harbor with four new cotton dresses, a lifelong supply of cold cream and hopes of injecting passion into her marriage with British big-game hunter Kenneth Carr. Although conjugal bliss eluded her, the hills of central Africa captured her heart, and she passed up safety, security and marriage with a later love to stay in Rwanda. Carr saw at close handAlong before the genocide of 1994Athe warfare between Hutu and Tutsi in 1959, violence spilling over from the Congo during the 1960s and independence for RwandaAon four days' noticeAin 1962. Rich in details about elephants, marriage customs and the author's flower plantation, this charming memoir transports readers to the land where Dian Fossey (whom Carr knew and profiles here) studied her gorillas. The horror of 1994 forced Carr off her plantation and out of the country for a few months, but she is now back, running an orphanage for victims' children she started in an old barn. By today's confessional standards, Carr, who is 86, is reticent about her personal life. Literary flourishes are few here; rather, along with her niece, Halsey, she writes simply and evocatively, entertaining readers with vignettes about her European, African and American acquaintances. Money did not come easily to Carr, but out of Africa has come an abundance of spirit. First serial to Vogue.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This was such a wonderful story told in such wonderful detail!
JLo86
She is an amazing, courageous woman with a huge heart, who will undoubtedly touch many many people with her memoir.
"ljhaustin"
I have read countless books about Africa and the people who lived there...and very few can compare.
Dkbonnell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I work in an independent book store. For a year I have been communicating with a Rwandan woman, a Tutsi who survived the genocide and now would like to come to America with her 6 year old daughter to study Social Work. I have been reading as much as I can about Africa, Rwanda in particular. I read Philip Gourevitch's "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: stories from Rwanda," and Julian Pierce's novel "Speak Rwanda." Of course I devoured Barbara Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible." Then I noticed this biography "Land of a Thousand Hills, My Life in Rwanda," by Roz Carr. I was totally captivated by this incredible woman and completely taken in by her story of her life in Africa over the past 50 years. Rosamond Halsey Carr went with her husband to live in the Belgian Congo in 1949, 5 years before Barbara Kingsolver's fictitious family. As time went on, even though her marriage did not last, she chose to stay in this part of the world making it her home. She moved to Rwanda when the white settlers were forced out of Zaire in the early 1960's. Not only did she survive, she is still there, at age 88 running an orphanage for children who lost their families during the genocide. This book describes as nothing else has the reality of 20th century life in the Congo and Rwanda from the perspective of an "ordinary" white settler. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent read. It provides an interesting perspective of the history and culture of Rwanda from the first hand. For those of us who have never been really sure what the Hutu/Tusi conflict was about, this book provides a clear explanation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In 1949, South Orange socialite and Manhattan fashion designer Rosamund Halsey Carr worries that her marriage is going to fail. Trying to save it, Rosamund accompanies her spouse Kenneth, a renowned African hunter and explorer, to live in Rwanda. Though her efforts for marital bliss fail, over the next five decades Rosamund finds passion and love for THE LAND OF A THOUSAND HILLS.
This biography provides readers with much insight into the recent and not so recent deadly war between the Wahutu and Watutsi. Rosamund Halsey Carr brings five decades of East Africa to life through the author's first hand experiences. Anyone who expects sexual exploits and scandals in personal narratives need to look elsewhere. However, those who want an insightful look at a people and a land, this biography is worth reading.

Harriet Klausner
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Hugh M Frazer on November 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
High Praise for whom? Is it Madame (Ros), or Ms. Halsey (Ann), or maybe Sembagare, or Kenneth who sparked the flame, or the multiple thousands of lives touched by Ros and who in turn touched her life? Or all of the above? Truth may not be stranger than fiction but it sure is more interesting. As one who lived and worked in Africa for many years, much of it in the Congo, I just want to say this is a marvelous work of art befitting the subject(s). Kwa heri, Madame. God Bless!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Julie on August 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a well-written book! It reads like the memoir that it is, and memoirs require special storytelling skills when they cover an entire 50 years. And this is what the book does--covers 50 years of the author's life and Rwandan history.

The way the author describes her friendship with Dian Fossey, her marriage to Kenneth, the people she met and shared her home and land with, and the circumstances of ethnic strife in Rwanda are incredibly touching and fascinating.

The author moved to Rwanda in the waning years of colonialism. At first, it appeared like this unique lifestyle of privilege the colonialists lead will last for a very long time--yet it seemed to vanish overnight. Most of the author's friends were killed or lost everything when the Congo (now Zaire) and Rwanda made their transitions to independence.

From there, Rwanda seems to have a bright enough future as the government invests in environmental and educational progress. However, all the while displaced Tutsi refugees were fermenting across the border in Uganda, Burundi, and the Congo.

As war and revenge tears apart the progress that's been made since independence, the author struggles to maintain her humanity, home, farm, and physical safety. Like so many people, she lost nearly everything in the genocide that occurred in 1994--many of her workers and friends, all her possessions--even the plumbing was ripped out of the walls of her house. Not to be daunted, she rebounds later that year by remaking her farm into an orphanage.

This book was an amazing look at the struggles, triumphs, and tragedies the Rwandan people faced over a span of about 50 years. It helped me understand the transition to independence and the genocide so much better than news reports. The author tells the story in a refreshingly human light--helping imagine what it might have been like.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pistol pete on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
My interest in Rwanda was spurred by watching the movie "Hotel Rwanda" and reading "The Poisonwood Bible" (which is set in next door Congo). This book follows the life of a young woman that marries an African adventurer and goes there at a fairly young age. She winds up spending practically the rest of her life there, and provides a unique and interesting perspective on Rwanda's history. Watching "Hotel Rwanda" gave me only a snapshot - leading me to think that Hutus were crazy blood thirsty savages going after Tutsis. Well, many of them were, but this book gave me a little of the background as to why the Hutus are so crazy and militant. Rwanda certainly has had a turbulent history.

The book itself is a fascinating look at life on a flower farm in Rwanda over several decades. Diane Fossey plays quite a role, as her gorilla camp was not far from the main character's house. Good story overall.
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