Book Review: “We Wish to Inform You…”

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, Philip Gourevitch
originally published: September 1999
finished 12 December 2011

I have always felt an obligation to read books like this – books written about the terrible things human beings do to one another. In 1994, I was safe in my little house taking care of my 3-year-old son. Not worrying that we would be hacked to death by our machete-wielding neighbors. People we’d lived next to for years without incident.

I read these books to try and understand why. I know that it’s unlikely I’ll ever be satisfied with the answer, but I continue to try. Gourevitch does an admirable job interviewing people who lived through the genocide in Rwanda – either as victims or perpetrators. He provides a history of the region that includes how the Hutus and Tutsis came to this crossroads, how the colonization of Africa contributed to the divisions, and how the western world was aware, but did nothing to stop the bloodshed. I was ashamed at the time that we did nothing. I’m still ashamed.

Maybe I read books to convince myself that if I had been there, I would have acted differently. I like to think I would have been a righteous gentile during World War II. I like to think I would have been someone who stood up to the interahamwe when they came to kill. I don’t know, I will continue to be grateful that I’ve never been in the position to find out.

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