Hatzfeld’s work is of great importance to understanding the Rwandan tragedy—and to the study of genocide generally.



Nearly a quarter-century after the fact, a searching look at the children of genocide in Rwanda.

French journalist/activist Hatzfeld (The Antelope's Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide, 2009, etc.), who has been writing for years on the Rwandan massacre and its aftermath, chronicles his travels across the small nation to speak with young men and women, Hutu and Tutsi alike, whose parents and grandparents were swept up in a back-and-forth violence that saw the deaths of as many as 1 million people. One young Hutu man speaks to the dire consequences of ethnicity in itself, saying that he does not speak of it—especially with members of the other major tribe. People don’t care about ethnicity in other African countries, he observes, but to this day in Rwanda, “it attracts misfortune and it blocks understanding.” He thinks further and adds, “it’s important for the ones who suffered to be clear about who suffered and who committed crimes.” That is, it’s important to assign blame—and perhaps to keep the wheels of recrimination turning. Aid workers, street people, workers: Hatzfeld is comprehensive in his choice of subjects, many of whom, though too young to remember events firsthand, keep them alive in memory for good and ill. The author himself came under suspicion as someone perhaps “inexplicably trying to rile people up” in the quest of remembrance, when most Rwandans, it seems, would sooner forget—not forgive and forget, just forget. So can genocide be ruled out as a future possibility? Almost certainly not. Says one 16-year-old Tutsi girl, wiser than her years, “deep down, a lot of young people from both ethnicities conceal a desire for revenge. That’s why so many young Rwandans are religious. They put their trust in God in order to alleviate their sorrows, in order not to stumble.” But, she adds, “We are keeping on our guard, since the threats are quiet for now.”

Hatzfeld’s work is of great importance to understanding the Rwandan tragedy—and to the study of genocide generally.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-27978-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?