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The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide Paperback – May 21, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-1850653721 ISBN-10: 1850653720 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd; 2nd edition (May 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850653720
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850653721
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,302,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although it occurred only in 1994, the civil war in the tiny central African nation of Rwanda has already slipped from memory. In that country, writes Belgian historian Gérard Prunier, Tutsi and Hutu fell to slaughtering each other at the end of a long history of Belgian, German, and French colonialism that deliberately played on ethnic tensions. The final "historical product" was the murder of perhaps a million people and the displacement another two million, nearly half of the country's population all told. Prunier traces a course through the complex history of unrest and hatred that washed over Rwanda, and he looks deeply into the question of why this horror could have happened in an era of international peacekeeping. His conclusion is disturbing: "Genocides are a modern phenomenon--they require organization--and they are likely to become more frequent." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

One of the absolute and mystifying horrors of the late 20th century has been the carnage taking place in the small central African nation of Rwanda. It is also probably safe to say that it has been the least understood. The author, a senior researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, has written the first comprehensive account in English that examines the causes and events of this genocidal civil war. Whereas most in the West have been given to believe it was merely a "tribal" conflict (Hutu vs. Tutsi), Prunier points out, correctly, the substantive underlying causes: a colonial legacy that disrupted precolonial ethnic relations, political chaos and repression, economic dislocation, Western bungling and neglect, the role of the church, and overpopulation?to name a few. His well-written and important study belongs in all but the smallest collections dealing with Africa or current events. Another comparable title is Alain Destexhe's Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (LJ 10/1/95).?Paul H. Thomas, Hoover Inst. Lib., Stanford, Cal.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on February 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book has plenty of information about Rwanda and the 1994 genocide there. Yes, the book may appear anti-Hutu. But that is because so many of the Hutus were guilty of genocide. The fact that not all Tutsis have always been angels does not change that.

Rwanda is a country of a little over 10,000 square miles, with several million people. At the beginning of 1994, about ten percent of its people were Tutsis and almost all of the rest were Hutus. There were about 900,000 Tutsis. In the space of a few weeks, 800,000 of the Tutsis were brutally murdered, many of them by their neighbors, who generally used machetes to slaughter them. This was a carefully planned extermination. There was a long period of incitement. And even the word "inyenzi" (literally, "cockroaches") used by Hutu extremists to describe Tutsis started as a reference to violent armed men who tended to move at night. It was not merely a term of derision, but also one which helped produce a reaction of fear that encouraged the massacres.

The author explains that had it not been for the success of a Tutsi army in eventually (but too late) taking the capital city, the leaders of the genocide probably would have gotten away with it completely. There might have been a brief and partial UN boycott, with France discreetly violating it, followed by a restoration of international ties with the government.

The differences between Tutsis and Hutus had made a big impression on European colonialists a century earlier. The Tutsis were usually considerably taller and thinner than the Hutus. The Tutsis typically had narrower noses and lighter skins as well. Europeans had put Tutsis in control of the land in spite of the fact that the Hutus were a big majority.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Bruske on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
From an ex-Peace Corps Volunteer, Rwanda.
This book seems to have been eclipsed by Gourevitch's journalistic account. Prunier was there and writing at the time that this happened. This book is basically a compilation of his observations of the genocide in Rwanda as it was occuring. It is, perhaps, less passionate than other accounts, but that only makes it more chilling. It traces the origins of the Rwanda genocide, the horrors of preparation and execution. This is an important book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Una on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book--dull as a doornail--is the only sensible deconstruction of the Rwandan genocide out there, and believe me, I've read them all. I wept at the calculated coldness that Prunier dissects; I wept at the pieces, and the smooth, hot coals I cradled in my palm. This book gave me blisters.

Toss those easy, primitive theories on Rwandese tribal factions or the wide-eyed machete-wielding Protestant Hutu crying "demon possession, mea culpa": Prunier goes deeper, putting his own horror on the shelf for clear-eyed clarity. He plumbs the history of Rwanda, top to bottom. There's not a nook or cranny of evidence I've heard of that he doesn't explore. He mainly points to the colonialist Europeans who manipulated and separated and created Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Holistic, honest, brilliant, he separates facts and theories from each other with a humble incision. Yet with or without this careful separation it's apparent: his theories hold water AND blood.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Campani on September 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
and Mr. Prunier, tries to keep out of this game as well as possible. He does so - and this is and answer to the reader who finds it a pitty not to express emotions - because he is aware of the hot climate in which this event is being regarded. Scholars, journalists, people, press and governements draw from the history of Rwanda and from the stereotypes of Africa not to explain what (the facts) happened in 1994, but to impose their own opinion every time, to justify their position. We had enough of this! I really appreciate that Mr. Prunier does his best in not participating to the emotional game. We need to set out the facts in a clear way, this is the only way to discuss. I can understand that it might be hard for someone, expecially for rwandese whose family suffered in the massacres to accept this "cold observer from the outside", still I would like to ask these people to recall all the occasions in which precisely emotional arguments created trouble in that little state in the middle of Africe, and in the world's politics. Thank you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Pyott on March 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have read no other book that so dispassionately, logically, and compellingly (and yes, perhaps coldly) simply gives the reader the facts. Not an easy read, as sometimes I had to read the pages twice to fully grasp the meaning, but a great experience. Probably the best book I've ever read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sharp Reader on October 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book, a must-read if you want to find out why and how the genocide unfolded in Rawanda. I have read other books on this subject, including prize-winning ones, but none is as thorough lucid and as well written as this account. This is a book that is actually about Rawanda and not a book about someone passing through Rawanda. Good job Gerard Prunier!
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