An incredible Autobiography written by the man who inspired the movie 'Hotel Rwanda'. Often sad, incredibly tragic, but also full of hope that even in the darkest of times, there are people that hold on to the basic human decency that tells them to protect their fellow human beings, not harm them. I found this book to be engrossing while simultaneously being horrifying. The author describes events during the genocide with an almost casual air at times, as though watching your neighbors hack your other neighbors apart with a machete is something you just become used to. But, there's also a undercurrent of terror there, as though even after almost becoming numb to it, it's still so terrible to remember that he tries not to. All of this is perfectly understandable. After all, it's the most basic of all human survival skills. You adjust to your situation in order to cope, and simply block out things that are too painful to remember or live with.
The wisdom present in this book is profound. You can definitely take lessons about life from someone who survived one of the worst situations imaginable. Such as when he talks about his decision to stay behind during the partial evacuation of the hotel, even though he could have gotten out, because he knew there'd be nobody left to try to protect those staying behind, and he couldn't live with himself if they were harmed or killed because he cared more about himself. Or, when they come for a man that wasn't much liked because he had just recently been released from prison for beating someone to death, and who is high on the kill list for having three sons fighting with the Tutsi rebel army, and he basically says to him "Let me go out there. Let them kill me so all of you can live." Then the author writes 'There is no crime a man can commit that makes him deserving of death.' It is a type of everyday wisdom that I suppose can only really come when you live through the kind of horror that he did, which puts everything in perspective.
Whether writing about the heroic or the horrible, the everyday or the extraordinary, perhaps the greatest thing about this book is that it's written with a great sense of humility. Paul Rusesabagina would tell you (and does, repeatedly) that he didn't do anything extraordinary. That all he and others like him did was remain human in an inhuman time, but the fact is that he doesn't truly realize how extraordinary that is. To go against the storm, to whisper 'no' when everyone else is screaming 'yes', takes a strength that is to be envied and respected. He is a hotel manager. He did his job, and he did it well. But, more than that, he's a hero, whether he realizes it or not. I don't know whether I'd have the strength to do what he did, but I can only hope that whenever a storm comes, there will always be people like him to help make sure that at least some survive it.
Really great and valuable insight into every level of the genocide and the people involved. Along with several other books about the genocide, it offers more depth and information and is an amazing account of what happened. His access to people from all levels of government, military, and social status provides a truly complicated story of how it all unfolded. A definite must-read.
This is a tale whose calm and eloquent language is often at odds with the nightmare it describes. Rusesabagina speaks matter-of-factly about the horrors he witnessed, and humbly about his part in preventing even more bloodshed. His basic humanity, quick thinking, and uncommon facility with words allowed him and those he sheltered to survive. The book is not particularly partisan or agenda driven, even though it has harsh words for the UN and world governments who stood by and did nothing. Mostly, this is simply the story of what the author saw and what he did, and for such a short and uncomplicated book, it's very compelling reading.
Should be required reading for every high schooler.
This is one of the best books I have ever read - and it is an autographed copy. I wanted to pass it along to someone who will truly appreciate the book.