Canadian Reviews

Shake Hands With The Devil Review


In all my life, I have never read a book like the one written by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire. Never before have I read words so heart-wrenching. It left me utterly amazed at what people are capable of, and how damaging that can be to a person who has no choice but to witness it yet is rendered powerless to do anything about it.

Shake Hands With The Devil is the first hand account of what happened during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, along with much of the unknown power plays and political maneuvering that occurred behind the scenes at that time.

General Dallaire spares no details in the story of what he went through, and this is what makes the book both powerful and also a very brutal read. He tells of finding piles of bodies cut deeply with machetes, emasculation, and rape. Bodies that were dumped into rivers. He tells of the deplorable conditions that the UN peace keepers had to work under: cramped space almost continually under mortar and artillery fire, no running water, inadequate supplies and personnel, and then crushes the reader with how they were living in luxury compared to ordinary Rwandans. Then there was the complex political situation into which he was thrust with the assignment to make peace between two belligerent parites who refused to cooperate. At the end, we are left with two questions:

  1. how could we have let this happen and why didn't we do more to help?
  2. how can we prevent this from happening again?

It may seem odd that some of the blame lies on our first world nations' governments, but it's true, and General Dallaire makes this very clear. The committment from UN countries to help with the mission was severely lacking and in some cases waseven detrimental to the mission.

Often, the general usesmany names of people, their positions and UN acronyms interchangably, which gets confusing at times, especially when it comes tothe longafrican names,but in the end it doesn't diminish the impact of the story.

I consider this a must-read, and very well written book.

  

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Added: August 20th 2006
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  1. Posted by Almighty1
    2006-09-20 15:22:12
    my score:
    Absolutely agree! The book was impossible to put down. A very informative read, unfortunately we (western society) seem not to have learned our lessons.
  2. Posted by Almighty1
    2006-09-20 15:21:59
    my score:
    Absolutely agree! The book was impossible to put down. A very informative read, unfortunately we (western society) seem not to have learned our lessons.
  3. Posted by Almighty1
    2006-09-20 15:21:47
    my score:
    Absolutely agree! The book was impossible to put down. A very informative read, unfortunately we (western society) seem not to have learned our lessons.
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