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The number one international bestseller chosen as Nonfiction Book of the Year and winner of the Shaughnessy-Cohen prize; for political writing. A harrowing and ultimately redemptive war memoir by the General who commanded the UN forces in Rwanda, Dallaire's book is an invaluable contribution to the perennially popular genre of war literature.
Rom-o Dallaire joined the Canadian Army in 1964. A three star General, he served as Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army and later in the Ministry of Defence. General Dallaire was medically released from the armed forces in April 2000 due to posttraumatic stress disorder and is now special adviser to the Canadian government on war-affected children and the prohibition of small arms distribution. In January 2002, he received the inaugural Aegis Award for Genocide Prevention in London.
Canadian Dallaire was the first commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda in 1993-94. He and his staff worked long hours to try to keep the peace and provide protection for civilians; yet, no matter how carefully he explained the situation on the ground, the UN bureaucrats were only interested in more situation reports. Member states (with a few exceptions) failed to send necessary troops and supplies. As a result, ten percent of the Rwandan population was killed in only three months, and many more became refugees. This account is based on the author's diaries and files. After a futile year, Dallaire received a medical leave. A similar story has been told by Michael Barnett in Eyewitness to a Genocide, which attempts to explain the moral dilemma within the UN; local stories have been told by Philip Gourevitch in We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families. A discomfiting book to read, partly because the author remains very emotional about his experiences but primarily because the truth in Rwanda reflects so poorly on the international community. Academic and larger public libraries should consider this thought-provoking title.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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. Agent, Nicole Winstanley at Westwood Creative Artists. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Shake Hands With The Devil is one of the saddest books I have ever read and one of the most heart-breaking eye-witness accounts.A kind of naive and painfully honest confession of the failure of an organisation, a meticulous description of one of the worst betrayals in the history of humanity." * Guardian * "indisputably the best account of the whole terrible Rwandan genocide" * The Sunday Times * "Although this is a deeply personal book, it is undoubtedly an important historical record of the UN's failure in Rwanda and an impassioned plea against the moral cowardice that allowed the genocide to happen." * The Independent *