Rwanda is an exciting country with a tragic history. Before a recent work trip there, I asked the Twitterverse for book recommendations about the land of a thousand hills. Here is what I heard back, along with a few of my own. (Asterisks are on the ones I’ve actually read.)
On Rwanda today
- A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It*, by Stephen Kinzer (my review) – A short history of Rwanda, with a major focus on post-genocide. Kinzer is very sympathetic to the current government. It’s easy to read and a good introduction to modern Rwanda. The author – Kinzer – wrote a defense of Paul Kagame in the Boston Globe a few weeks ago.
- Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship, by Anjan Sundaram – Documents limitations to free speech in Rwanda today.
- Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation, by Tim Kelsall — Uses Rwanda as one (of three) case studies on modern African economic growth.
- Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World, by Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond – Super-sympathetic analysis of government support for business in Rwanda. I started it but didn’t finish it. (On Twitter, I received one recommendation for this but also one critique.)
- The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda, by Catherine A. Honeyman – “investigates the impact and reception of the Rwandan government’s multiyear entrepreneurship curriculum, first implemented in 2007 as required learning in all secondary schools” (from Amazon blurb)
- Rwandan Women Rising, by Swanee Hunt – “While news of the Rwandan genocide reached all corners of the globe, the nation’s recovery and the key role of women are less well known. In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt shares the stories of some seventy women—heralded activists and unsung heroes alike—who overcame unfathomable brutality, unrecoverable loss, and unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society. … Rwandan women did not seek the limelight or set out to build a movement; rather, they organized around common problems such as health care, housing, and poverty to serve the greater good.” (from the Duke University Press blurb)
- Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence, edited by Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf – “Remaking Rwanda is the first book to examine Rwanda’s remarkable post-genocide recovery in a comprehensive and critical fashion. By paying close attention to memory politics, human rights, justice, foreign relations, land use, education, and other key social institutions and practices, this volume raises serious concerns about the depth and durability of the country’s reconstruction.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, by Gérard Prunier – “follows the 1996–2002 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo through many bewildering twists and turns.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Women and Power in Postconflict Africa, by Aili Mari Tripp — “gender disruptions that occur during war” (some on Rwanda in here). Review by Alice Evans.
On the genocide
- We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda*, by Philip Gourevitch – I found this well-written and powerful. It was the first book I read about Rwanda, and it was perfect for a novice, giving an intro to the history and then the genocide itself.
- Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak*, by Jean Hatzfeld (my review) – Hatzfeld interviewed a series of genocidaires while they were in prison. Insightful work.
- The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda, by Scott Straus – Social science approach.
- Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda, by Jennie E. Burnet — “This clear and engaging ethnography of survival tackles three interrelated phenomena—memory, silence, and justice—and probes the contradictory roles women played in postgenocide reconciliation.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, by Roméo Dallaire — “For the first time in the United States comes the tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who ‘watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect.'” (from Amazon blurb)
- And a couple of novels:
- A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by Gil Courtemanche — “A moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Running the Rift, by Naomi Benaron — “Running the Rift follows the progress of Jean Patrick Nkuba from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life.” (from Amazon blurb)
Many thanks to Adolfo Avalos-Lozano, Sarah Baird, Danielle Beswick, Erika Edwards Decaster, Alice Evans, Andrew Gerard, Seva Gunitsky, Mike Holmes, Robert Marten, Jonathan Mazumdar, Gaby Saade, for Elisabeth Turner for suggestions.
[Updated 8/23/2017 at 2:30pm]
1 thought on “What books to read on Rwanda?”
all of those books are extremely precise and really emotional! once started can’t get enough of them.