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Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak Paperback – April 18, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
This book features the testimony of 10 friends from the same village who spent day after day together, fulfilling orders to kill any Tutsi within their territory during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While their anecdotes are shocking at first, they detail how an ordinary person with an everyday life in a farming village can be transformed into a killer. As one man explains, "if you must obey the orders of authorities, if you have been properly prepared, if you see yourself pushed and pulled, if you see the killing will be total and without disastrous consequences for yourself, you feel soothed and reassured." A reporter for Paris's Libération, Hatzfeld has a remarkable ability to pry into the killer's memory and conscience. One Hutu tells how "a pain pinched his heart" when confronted with an old Tutsi soccer teammate he was obligated to kill. Others describe the regrets or nightmares they have now that the genocide is over (and they are in prison). But for the most part, the interviews reveal the killers' naïve expectations for forgiveness and reconciliation once they are released. Hatzfeld offers an analysis of the psychology of the perpetrators and how the Rwandan genocide differs from other genocides in history. Steering clear of politics, this important book succeeds in offering the reader some grasp of how such unspeakable acts unfolded. Agent, Valerie Borchardt at Georges Borchardt Inc.(June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
French journalist Hatzfeld, the author of several books on war atrocities, offers a close-up look at the thoughts, motivations, and regrets of 10 of the Hutu killers who participated in the slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors. An estimated 500,000 Tutsis were murdered in May and April of 1994 when ethnic tensions were whipped into a frenzy following the death of Rwandan president Juvenal Habayarima, a Hutu. Now imprisoned for their participation in the slaughter, the 10 men Hatzfeld interviewed offer incredible accounts of how they moved from ordinary lives, albeit ones filled with simmering tensions with their Tutsi neighbors, to the ragtag army employed to kill with machetes. Some recall the coercion needed to secure their participation, while others were eager for the task. Many recall the methodical nature of the slaughter and the bloodthirstiness of some of their compatriots as they made sure that no man, woman, or child was spared. A killer recalls looking into the eyes of his victims and the stares that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Chilling and thoroughly absorbing. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Yet, there are several factors that stick out. First of all, the author was a foreigner who used a Tutsi translator. As another reviewer mentioned, the intensity and honesty behind the interviews could have been altered, toned down, or changed. Another important thing is that the author interviewed prisoners. A few of the prisoners being interviewed showed great regret and sadness of being jailed. This could have definitely caused them to feel guilt for their actions. Since there were so many people involved in the genocide, not all of them are in prisons. Some of them are still living without a legal or given consequence. It would be interesting to see the view of one of the perpetrators who never got caught.
Even though the book could have been different, it is a great book that everyone should read. If not for a class or interest, for understanding of humans actions and thoughts. There should definitely be more books like this!
This cannot and should not be interpreted as an excuse for such horrific actions, which Hatzfeld acknowledges - as do some of the killers. What is important here is the understanding of what makes individuals do what they do in examples of genocide and ethnic cleansing. It is through understanding this process that future incidents can be prevented. Vigilance is required without question, especially if it is the case that it can happen anywhere. This vigilance must be supplemented by wisdom and learning - and Hatzfeld's interviews are a strong addition to the existing body of work documenting the terrible, tragic, and horrific crimes committed in Rwanda. More importantly, though, they are an invaluable glimpse into the frighteningly dark and frustratingly wicked capabilities of human beings to engage in the worst of behaviors.
Scariest info for me was that there really was no hatred, people were just so easily led and manipulated, that people could say 'you should do this' and they did.