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A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It [Hardcover]

Stephen Kinzer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2008 0470120150 978-0470120156 1
A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It is the story of Paul Kagame, a refugee who, after a generation of exile, found his way home. Learn about President Kagame, who strives to make Rwanda the first middle-income country in Africa, in a single generation. In this adventurous tale, learn about Kagame’s early fascination with Che Guevara and James Bond, his years as an intelligence agent, his training in Cuba and the United States, the way he built his secret rebel army, his bloody rebellion, and his outsized ambitions for Rwanda.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: Fourteen years after the 1994 genocide that claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days, Rwandans continue the daily work of rebuilding their shattered country. In light of recent reports that one in four people suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder--which Rwandans aptly describe as ihahamuka or "breathless with fear"--how is recovery even possible? In search of answers, foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer traveled extensively throughout Rwanda where he observed an astonishing economic and political transformation based surprisingly on Asian models, and the implementation of unconventional reconciliation efforts. The author also conducted extensive interviews with Rwanda's enigmatic president, Paul Kagame. The result of Kinzer's quest is A Thousand Hills, a page-turning story of a society desperately trying to regain its breath, and an ambitious and autocratic leader's unrelenting efforts to breathe life into its future. This is essential reading, even if you've read earlier accounts by Canadian general Roméo Dallaire, journalists Phillip Gourevitch and Samantha Power, and the heroic Paul Rusesabagina immortalized in the film Hotel Rwanda. --Lauren Nemroff

From Publishers Weekly

Kinzer (All the Shah's Men) has penned a hagiographic account of Rwandan president Paul Kagame, the Tutsi refugee who organized the Rwandan Military Front in 1994 and helped halt the genocide in Rwanda. Instead of settling scores, Kagame embarked on a program of reconciliation and reconstruction; Kinzer eloquently describes a physical and psychological recovery unmatched in Africa: a Rwanda whose people are bubbling with a sense of unlimited possibility. Kagame's goal, modeled on the successes of Asian tigers like Singapore, aims to transform Rwanda into the continent's first middle-income country in a single generation, eschewing foreign aid in favor of reliance on business-driven development. Kinzer does not conceal the bloody realities behind Kagame's acquisition of power nor does he deny Kagame's rigorous, absolutist approach to governing. Nevertheless, he is transparently trusting in Kagame's capabilities and intentions, and while his eloquent prose invites optimism, a half-century of experience urges caution. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470120150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470120156
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Kinzer was Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times and is now that paper's national cultural correspondent. He is the author of Blood of Brothers and co-author of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. He lives in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Paul Kagame July 31, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
President Paul Kagame is a man who inspires a wide range of emotions in those who meet him. Some like me admire him...Others hate him. Certainly many in French diplomatic circles see him as the devil clothed in Anglophone robes. In the Africanist analytical world, he is either Rwanda's greatest hope or its mortal danger. Certainly his enemies have reason to fear him even as his friends love him. Both enemy and friend know that the wise respect him.

I first met then Vice President and Defense Minister Major General Paul Kagame in the fall of 1994 when he was struggling to put the shattered country of Rwanda back together. Some were want to describe him as a "war lord" even as one could buy T-shirts with his picture on them with the phrase "Free at Last!" at Kigali's international airport. General Kagame was serious, determined, and it was clear that he was a strong man. What remained to be seen was whether he would become another "Big Man" in African politics or rise above that label to be a truly great African leader.

Like no other author so far, Stephen Kinzer offered us a peak inside the complexity named Paul Kagame. Kinzer enjoyed unprecedented access to the President of Rwanda and provided a colorful and insightful biography of the man. Like any good interlocutor, Kinzer understands that listening is best technique for the interviewer. He offers Kagame's own words to the reader allowing the subject of this biography to speak on his own behalf. That is not only fair, it is probably critical to understand this man who spent much of his life fighting the status quo--and ultimately winning.

According to Kinzer, Kagame's early life as a refugee in Uganda hardened him into the typical angry young man found in a life surrounded by poverty.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Insightful Read July 18, 2008
I read this book in preparation for trip to Rwanda later this year. Mr. Kinzer has done exhaustive research into the history or Rwanda from the early 20th century through the present. From the time of Belguin colonialism, the rise of the RPF in Uganda and the genocide to an a fair presentation of Paul Kagame's mission to bring peace, reconciliation and prosperity to Rwanda post genocide. Although Rwanda has a long way to go, according the author, they are on the right track - largely thanks to Paul Kagame. The author is highly critical (rightfully so in my opinion) of the Clinton Administration, the UN and France in particular in the role either ignoring or aiding the genocide. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of Rwanda and the current state of affairs in the country.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Way of Kagame February 22, 2009
Stephen Kinzer, former Times correspondent, has written a curious book about Paul Kagame, current leader of Rwanda. Kinzer's approach is to tell Kagame's story from the beginning and then let Kagame, in his own italicized words, comment on the ideas and incidents that Kinzer has highlighted. This makes for a nice balance of author and subject but more often than not Kinzer seems uncertain whether Kagame's particular approach is really as wonderful as Kinzer desperately wants it to be.

Why is Kinzer so eager to see Kagame succeed? That's a simple enough question to answer. The Rwandan genocide was a horrendous event and one can only feel sympathy for the Rwandan people and wish them well in overcoming the disastrous effects of that grusome episode. One also senses a real affection for Kagame on the part of Kinzer who undoubtedly views him as an immensely heroic (even romantic?) figure. A true guerrilla leader/statesman in the mold of Che Guevara. A man who also bent history to his own will.

One of the most remarkable revelations in this book is that fact that foreign diplomats posted in Kigali are often at odds with their home governments in how to deal with the overtly authoritarian and at times repressive actions of Kagame's government. When Kinzer interviews these diplomats the same rationale seems to emerge: we don't like everything Kagame is doing but it seems to be working so let's not rock the boat. Kinzer also makes short work of critical analysts from organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who according, to Kinzer, are short-sighted and may even have an anti-Kagame bias.

This is not to say that Kinzer himself is totally on board with the Kagame Way. Far from it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rwanda forgivness on the road to recovery October 12, 2008
A well written, captivating history of the recent war and current recovery in Rwanda. The concept of people giving forgiveness following mass killing is an integral part of healing of this country.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important account July 31, 2008
Paul Kagame, along with Morgan Tsvangirai and Yoweri Museveni, represents one of Arica's most brilliant contemporary leaders. Kagame was born in 1957 to a Tutsi family and at the age of three was forced to flee his country after a Hutu uprising forced more than a hundred thousand Tutsis to flee in an early form of ethnic-cleansing. In 1979 Kagame joined Yoweri Museveni's guerilla movement in Uganda, where he was residing as a refugee. Museveni was fighting the dictator Milton Obote and when Obote fell from power Kagame was able to study first hand the outcome of the overthrow of a viscious dictator. When the Rwandan genocide broke out in 1994 Paul Kagame was in charge of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a mostly Tutsi armed guerilla group. His well disciplined army overthrew the genocidal regime and he has been in power ever since. This book examines his role in nation building and in reconciliation and it a wonderful account of the history of Rwanda before 1994 and after. In this it helps fill this important gap in the history of the country.

Seth J. Frantzman
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars page-turning modern history
I just listened to and was very impressed by Stephen Kinzer's A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It. Read more
Published 19 days ago by David Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book On Rwanda
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I couldn't put it down. I was just a child when civil war broke out in Rwanda in the 1990s. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Firestarter
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong book on history of Rwanda
Thorough research, balanced reporting on one of the most disturbing national conflagrations in human history. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Steve Haas, Chief Catalyst World Vision
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography of President Kagame
I loved learning about the evolution of President Kagame throughout his life. I especially liked how the author interspersed President Kagame's commentary throughout the book.
Published 7 months ago by DrCathi
5.0 out of 5 stars The Silver Lining
For years I've known about the Rwandan Genocide but haven't really understood the forces that brought it about. Read more
Published 7 months ago by booknblueslady
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
It tells the story of Rwanda and Paul Kagame in the most extensive of ways. Present and past history of Rwanda....nothing is left out.
Published 10 months ago by Ange Christian Iradukunda
4.0 out of 5 stars moving account
I started reading this because I was going to Rwanda for a business trip. I finished reading it on the trip. Read more
Published 13 months ago by William Archer
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding but difficult (emotionally) read
This was an incredibly interesting read - providing a balanced and rational view of the tragedy of Rwanda - and the role the outside world played in not only allowing the genocide,... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jennifer Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary reading if you're going to Rwanda.
Cribakoff. A remarkable recounting and explanation of a terrible time. Necessary reading if you are going to Rwanda, or just trying to understand the Incomprehensible.
Published 15 months ago by C. K. Ribakoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and insightful look at a fascinating man!
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in Rwanda. Stephen Kinzer did a tremendous job of being objective about a man and a subject that polarizes people. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jan
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