Lori's Book Nook

“Shake Hands with the Devil”

Posted on: August 3, 2006

I listened today to Terry Gross’ (of Fresh Air, NPR fame) interview with Lt-Gen Romeo Dallaire, UN Force Commander during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. I have his book, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda…I’ve read part of it. I had to stop once his description of the genocide really got going.

Much like I had to stop, when, in Grade 5, I was reading Roots by Alex Haley. I couldn’t get past the slave ship sequence. Put it aside for 6 months, went back, all was fine.

So, I think it’s time to pull out Dallaire’s award-winning book again.

It is truly a significant, moving book. He writes in a very spare style, focussing his words, and energy, on detailing the recorded facts of the events. If he gives an opinion, be it negative or positive, you can bet it is backed up by evidence.

I once heard his editor, Anne Collins of Random House Canada, read a section of this book to us — a group of wanna-be publishers at SFU’s Book Publishing Immersion Workshop (two of the most intense, but rewarding, weeks of my young life!). It moved us all to tears.

Now, go and read an excerpt of the interview with Terry Gross here. If it moves you, go on to listen to the interview (about 50 minutes long), conducted 10 years after the horrific events in Rwanda.

And perhaps, join me in reading the book.

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