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Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak Paperback – October 15, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

French journalist and war correspondent Hatzfeld offers brief, pithy accounts of 14 survivors of the three-day Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which 10,000 Tutsis seeking refuge in churches were slaughtered by machete-wielding Hutus. The survivors describe both devastation, as neighbors with whom [they] used to chat became executioners, and the degradation of later being marginalized by Rwandan society. Announcing their presence with whistles and songs, the Hutu killers arrived regularly in the morning and left in the late afternoon, their violent sprees corresponding with victims' efforts to hide the children in small groups under the papyrus at sunrise, and to emerge from hiding places in the marsh when the killers had finished their work at sunset. Even though each account tells the same harrowing story, each voice is unique. Bringing cumulative power to what, in lesser hands, might have been a random collection of historical accounts, Hatzfeld's wrenching collection compels an active response to the genocides occurring today. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

"People not streaming with their own blood were streaming with the blood of others." In Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (2005), French journalist Hatzfeld interviewed the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide that killed several hundred thousand Tutsis. Now he returns to speak to 14 survivors, who remember the horrifying atrocity they witnessed, from a 12-year-old schoolboy (who hid in a mound of corpses) to a 60-year-old teacher (who remembers his well-educated neighbors with their machetes). More than a random collection of oral histories, the focus is on one district, an area of 154 square miles, where in a period of six weeks, about 50,000 Tutsis—five out of six—were murdered by their Hutu neighbors. For each of the 14 interviewed today, Hatfeld fills in the background and provides a black-and-white photo. Those photos, accompanied by the clear personal voices, break your heart. The daily struggle with survivor guilt and outsiders' indifference is part of a constant connection with the Holocaust. Rochman, Hazel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590512731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590512739
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This compilation of interviews with various survivors of the Rwandan Genocide is one of great depth. I read this work during my graduate studies for a Holocaust and Genocide studies MA. Considering the amount of material I have read that is similar in content to this work, I was not expecting such a strong and visceral reaction. At one point in the work, I was unable to keep reading and had to leave the book while I wept. It is not often that this reaction comes to me at this point. The suffering is palpable throughout these interviews and this is a must-read work for anyone interested in human rights, genocide, war, peace studies, history or life in general.
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Format: Paperback
I would just like to note some mistakes in both publisher review summaries;

(1) The killings took place over a 3 month period; not 3 days. The three month period was April - June 1994, though lesser violence continued into July and onwards.

(2) The amount of Tutsi left dead at the end of the massacres totaled close to 1,000,000. There are 'neat' estimates around 500,000, but the most accurate place the victim toll at 800,000 to 937,000+. At least.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Life Laid Bare is simply superb. The author allows the voices of the genocide survivors ring through and gives them enough time and enough respect to allow them to verbally muse and mull. The net result is not only illuminating of Rwanda's history and the genocide itself - but presses home the complexity of genocidal events. I very much liked the fact that the author and the survivors made no attempt to speak for others in the sense that the claim here is that people are telling their own experience in the midst of events. They are humblingly humble in their incite of the enormity, but yet at the same time, individuality, of what they experienced. Must be read with the two subsequent books, Machete Season and the Antelope's Strategy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author puts a lot of information concerning the attitudes, fears, and unrest still prevelant in Rwanda. Survivor's guilt is an understandable emotion of the Tsutsi's that remain. And, quite obviouly, trusting those Hutus who were complicit in the genocide is a serious problem even now.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the way the author gave a brief over view of the survivor's life before the genocide and then
let them tell their story in their own words of what they went through to survive and how they are handling their
life now. One common thread throughout each story was the fact that the world just seemed to be
oblivious of what was going on in Rwanda or that they didn't seem to care. Not one survivor talked
bitterly about this, they just couldn't figure out "why?"
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