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A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda Hardcover – November 5, 2013


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A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda + A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It + Rwanda (Bradt Travel Guide)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part memoir, part history lesson, part discourse on how to make a public health project work using business standards, the story of Ruxin's life in Rwanda is riveting and inspirational. Although the author denies that the book is "about genocide," it is indeed imbued with the stories of the "the unspeakably dark times" in this African country's history. When Ruxin, a Fulbright scholar and public health activist, and his wife arrived in Rwanda in 2005, his mission was to create health facilities that worked, addressing the problems of AIDS, malaria, TB, and widespread malnourishment. The newlywed Manhattan couple said "a huge good-bye to everything they knew," procuring one-way airfare and a home directly across from the infamous Hotel Rwanda. In time, Ruxin (now on the faculty at Columbia University) received approval from the Rwandan government to pursue his Millennium Village Project. The bad news was that the area they ended up in was Mayange, a five-village cluster of dust and despair, lacking in any sense of community. The couple soon opened a restaurant called Heaven. Ruxin recounts how he and a top-notch team of health experts, organizers, agronomists, and others turned Mayange into a productive model that was eventually replicated in other locations. He also details the parallel development of a restaurant called Heaven, which was the brainchild of his wife, Alissa, who is also trained in public health. From the depths of destruction to "Heaven," Ruxin chronicles the regeneration of this remarkable country, ultimately revealing the healing power of forgiveness and hope.

Review

2014 Nautilus Award Gold Winner

"An absorbing and affecting narrative." -- New York Times

"Part memoir, part history lesson, part discourse on how to make a public health project work using business standards, the story of Ruxin's life in Rwanda is riveting and inspirational.... From the depths of destruction to "Heaven," Ruxin chronicles the regeneration of this remarkable country, ultimately revealing the healing power of forgiveness and hope." -- Publishers Weekly

"The upbeat story of an American couple raising their three children in Rwanda and making a huge difference in the lives of thousands.... A personal adventure tale with a serious message for those concerned with eradicating poverty." -- Kirkus

"Even those disinterested in the wonk of development work will be enchanted by the characters in A THOUSAND HILLS TO HEAVEN." -- The Daily Beast

"Josh Ruxin is a dynamic and creative leader in the fight for Health for All in Africa and the world. His stories are like Josh himself: lively, interesting, and inspiring. Read this terrific book and you'll be filled with ideas of how you too can help to change the world." -- Jeffrey D. Sachs, director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, author of To Move the World

"Heart-wrenching. Heart-warming. Poignant. Inspirational. Written with uncommon empathy and deftly turned phrases, full of entrepreneurial idealism tempered by hard-boiled common sense, and told with a modesty worthy of Mother Teresa and a page-turning suspense reminiscent of Stieg Larsson, A Thousand Hills to Heaven may well be the most meaningful book you read this year." -- Steven Raichlen, author of Planet Barbecue and host of Primal Grill on PBS

"Josh Ruxin is an entrepreneur for the 21st century who works at the intersection of health and business. His book beautifully captures his family's experiences and their ground-breaking - and often tasty - initiatives." -- Ambassador Mark R. Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

"This breezy memoir traces a wide-eyed do-gooder American duo from their naïve arrival to Rwanda, across years of work and lessons learned with the poor, concluding with a boutique bed-and-breakfast called Heaven. Wild ride." -- Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

"Josh Ruxin limns the trajectory of his work, and his family's life, against the backdrop of a country's transformation. As all of us privileged to work in Rwanda know, there are remarkable opportunities-and stories-here, personal, professional, and universal. Some of these are recounted in A Thousand Hills to Heaven, Ruxin's account of the origins and growth of a project, a family, and a restaurant." -- Dr. Paul Farmer, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Partners In Health

"Ruxin's work in Rwanda is an inspiration and in this book, he brings his insights and experience right to you. It's a moving, extraordinary journey that's worth sharing with your friends and your family." -- Larry King, host of Larry King Now

"Ruxin's story offers a window into the painful past and promising future of a nation ravaged by genocide and now bursting with potential. In a voice both compassionate and pragmatic, Ruxin offers a repudiation of conventional wisdom on international development work, making the case for a response that is at once creative and integrated, bold and humble. But the success of the book is that this lesson is delivered through an intensely personal narrative - tracking a decade in the life of a young couple through love and loss, certainty and doubt. This book is at times wrenching, at times hilarious and always honest. And perhaps its greatest feat is in calling the reader to account for our own choices - when have we failed to venture off the safe, well-trodden path? What would it take to choose an inspired life, driven daily by a higher purpose? How much are we willing to risk in the pursuit of a calling?" -- Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR

"A memoir of love, adventure, and family, A THOUSAND HILLS TO HEAVEN also provides a remarkable view of how, through health, jobs and economic growth, our foreign aid programs can be quickly remodeled and work to end poverty worldwide." -- Mother Nature Network

"A Thousand Hills to Heaven is a memoir of making the impossible possible. The Ruxins created a model for success, and helped bring health and happiness to a region that desperately needed it."—Kurt Michael Friese, Civil Eats
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316232912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316232913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 89 customer reviews
This book shows how two inspiring people made a difference in Rwanda.
retired teacher
Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda" by Josh Ruxin is extremely moving and inspirational.
Wilhelmina Zeitgeist
The writer's style is very easy to read, with picturesque language that makes you feel like you are there.
diljs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Lee on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Josh does a wonderful job of weaving together three seemingly unrelated topics - love/family, development work, and food - into a warm and honest memoir. His story is at once his own as well as the stories of all the incredible people he meets and works side-by-side with in Rwanda to transform a region devastated by the genocide, build one of Kigali's finest restaurants, and start a family. His points on international development are insightful and refreshing, and could only be derived from someone who has worked and lived overseas (from the U.S.) in an emerging economy for an extensive period of time. If you're looking for a book that will take you on an adventure, tickle your intellect, and challenge your perceptions of how things should be - all while being very easy and enjoyable to read - then this is the book for you. Definitely not your typical book on global health, international development, aid work, poverty reduction, etc. etc. - which is a very good thing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nancy E. Uslan on December 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Josh Ruxin's book A Thousand Hills to Heaven is a must-read for college students, international businesspeople and global entrepreneurs. Best Practice Principles are clearly defined, based on trial and error.

It's extraordinary how much Josh Ruxin and his wife, Alissa, have accomplished in the relatively short period of time they've spent in Rwanda. Their passion for finding answers to "critical need" and willingness to listen to and learn from Rwandans have enabled them to discover how to be effective instruments of change in a vastly different culture. Life and lives have been altered forever because they have created an environment of hope through economic development and unique health initiatives.

If you've been to Rwanda, Josh’s evocative descriptions will bring back the sights, sounds and smells. The book made me laugh out loud and even cry a little while empowering me to continue my own efforts in the country. A well-crafted and inspirational read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By 2moms2canada on November 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
During my first two trips to Kigali I was unable to visit Heaven, though I knew of its existence. This time, it was squarely on the itinerary. Fortunately for me, the book was released the day before my departure. I was able to buy the e-book and read it on my way to Rwanda. What a delight!

While I loved reading about the ups and downs of Heaven's 'birth,' it is really the development story that 'makes' the book. It is a terrific contribution to the 'popular' development literature in that it demonstrates, in a very real and accessible fashion, that it is about the 'hand up' not the 'hand out.' We need a hundred more books like this!

It was particularly enjoyable for me as I had spent some time in Bugesera and was on my way back. It's always fun to read a book and recognize the various places that are mentioned. I was able to dine at Heaven on this trip and to meet Alissa. It was delightful to have read the 'back story' before my visit. And, on my way to the Gashora Sector I even saw the Mayange clinic.

I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in development, poverty reduction, Rwanda, or simply a good read about the way that one truly can indeed make a difference in the world by doing what s/he loves.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras VINE VOICE on October 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first adjective that springs to mind when reading this book is simply: "Amazing!" It is an amazing story of an amazing family that accomplishes truly amazing things. For Josh and Alissa Ruxin to actually form the relationships they have with local individuals in Rwanda, and utilize their enthusiasm and personal commitment to motivate and not intimidate people from a very different culture is marvelous. To share this in an engaging and totally enjoyable book is a major gift.

Of course, the story of Rwanda since the genocide in the 1990's is nothing short of incredible. That the survivors of that horror could, as they seem to have done, build a viable nation that is committed to healing the wounds, eliminating the corruption and hatred that led to the massacre in the first place, and basing recovery not on external aid but internal development, seems to me to be unprecedented. In order to accomplish this, what they have done is the amazing system of "open-air courts" in which both the perpetrators and victims of the recent atrocities honestly confronted "what really happened" and truthfully told their stories, asked and gave forgiveness, determined appropriate reparations, and then MOVED ON.

Josh Ruxin and his family are obviously neither pious "do-gooders" nor exploiting profiteers. Rather, they are a pair of intelligent, capable people who are sensitive both to their own need to be contributors to the well-being of the world, and to the importance of sharing their experience of "the good life" with their own children. And, indeed, they are neither unrealistically optimistic about what it is possible to accomplish nor prone to the pessimism that often follows the inevitable clash of cultural values.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BB VINE VOICE on December 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an inspiring story of Josh and Alissa Ruxin lilving in Rwanda and making a difference. Josh was already working with Millennium Project's task force on AIDS when he and his new wife were approached to bring a Millennium Village to Rwanda. (program is explained as a way to attack poverty with new aids programs) They end up going to Rwanda and started a restaurant called "Heaven" The book is both heartbreaking and awe inspiring. The stories of the genocide will make you aware of the strength of people and all they had to overcome in the aftermath. There is also the strength of the Ruxins and what they do to provide jobs and help. It's hard to imagine a young couple going off to such an impoverished area and starting a family too. They like to visit the US, but then feel the need to return to Rwanda. Highly Recommended
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