From Publishers Weekly
As former head of the late 1993 U.N. peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, Canadian general Dallaire's initial proposal called for 5,000 soldiers to permit orderly elections and the return of the refugees. Nothing like this number was supplied, and the result was an outright attempt at genocide against the Tutsis that nearly succeeded, with 800,000 dead over three months. The failure of the U.N.'s wealthier members to act as the tragedy unfolded obliged the author to leave military service to recover from PTSD (as well as the near breakdown of his family). While much of the account is a thickly described I-went-here, I went-there, I-met-X, I-said-this, one learns much more about the author's emotional states when making decisions than in a conventional military history, making this an important document of service—one that has been awarded Canada's Governor General's Award. And his descriptions of Rwanda's unraveling are disturbing, to say the least ("I then noticed large piles of blue-black bodies heaped on the creek banks"). Dallaire's argument that Rwanda-like situations are fires that can be put out with a small force if caught early enough will certainly draw debate, but the book documents in horrifying detail what happens when no
serious effort is made.
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*Starred Review* On June 27, 1993, Dallaire--a career man in the Canadian military--was informed that he might be asked to lead a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, to which he replied excitedly, "Rwanda, that's somewhere in Africa, isn't it?" Fourteen months later, he would return from his service there a nearly broken man, having failed to prevent the unfathomable massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus, which took place over a mere 100 days. From meticulous diary entries he wrote during his service there, Dallaire pieces together the inside story of what went wrong. He puts unsparing blame on the circular failure of the UN: lack of support from member countries, especially the U.S and the Security Council, which led to lack of respect for the UN, which then led to lack of support from member countries. He blames the warring sides, especially extremist Hutus, for planning the genocide during peace talks, knowing the UN would not have the courage to enforce the peace: "They knew us better than we knew ourselves." And he blames himself for his political naivete and his inability to convince the UN of the gravity of the situation, which has now spread to neighboring Congo. For those who would understand the inexorable but entirely preventable unfolding of the Rwandan holocaust, this account, told from the eye of the storm, is indispensable. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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