A telling report and a substantive addition to the literature of humanitarian aid and ethnic violence.

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THE ANTELOPE’S STRATEGY

LIVING IN RWANDA AFTER THE GENOCIDE

A searching companion to Libération correspondent Hatzfeld’s Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (2005), recounting events in Rwanda 15 years after the spasm of ethnic violence that left untold dead in its wake.

Scarcely anyone in Rwanda, Hutu or Tutsi, was not touched by the savagery that broke out when, in April 1994, Hutu militias began to slaughter Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Overwhelmingly, Hatzfeld finds the survivors psychologically broken and hollow, feeling as if they had been “betrayed by life—[and] who can bear that?” His account opens in 2003, with the specter of a thin, dusty, endless column of 40,000 men, freed from camps and penitentiaries after having served time for their role in the genocide. Some of the interned, one of their number reflects, were jubilant; others, denying any wrongdoing, were furious at having been imprisoned in the first place. All were faced with the problem of making new lives in public, among the relatives and families of those whom they had killed. Some respond with drink, some with silence, some with isolation and some with anger. Lest there be an explosion of wife-beating and violence after the amnesty, government workers counseled, “Remain calm with your guilty spouse, be peaceable with your neighbor, patient with those who are traumatized, obedient with the authorities. And don’t delay in getting to work on clearing your overgrown fields.” The advice, it seems, mainly took, and if few Rwandans seem happy and suspicions endure, most people seem to be slowly getting back to life as usual, even if, as one man tells Hatzfeld, “I’m afraid of dreams.” Thanks to the work of Rwandans who insist on attaining justice—an arduous project, given the absence of a fully functioning judiciary and the difficulty of finding “simple fairness” in the back-and-forth of accusation and defense—some measure of normality is at last attainable in that unfortunate country.

A telling report and a substantive addition to the literature of humanitarian aid and ethnic violence.

Pub Date: March 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-27103-9

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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

NIGHT

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

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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