We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

Philip Gourevitch
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy's background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath. One of the most acclaimed books of the year, this account will endure as a chilling document of our time.


Reviewed: 2017-04-02
Absolutely amazing. Touching, poignant, gripping, and concise. Clear record of events in Rwanda and surroundings before, after, and during genocide juxtaposed with philosophy of the human condition. Also a strong indictment of the international community for ignoring events and even supporting crimes against humanity. Eye-opening overall.
Reviewed: 2016-03-01

It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere. ~ Primo Levi

How do you "rate" a book about genocide? On the merits of the reporting? On its "balanced" or "just" interpretation of history? On its tone or political slant? On the first-hand accounts presented? On your personal horror at both reading about what happened, and at probing the limits of your own ignorance? (How did I not know this?!)

The 5 stars is first and foremost a Thank You to Gourevitch for writing such a well-documented, historically detailed, passionate account of the Rwandan genocide. After reading We Wish to Inform You, I am more than ashamed that I knew very little of the tragedies Rwandans suffered during the 1990s (and beyond, past and present). This book provides an excellent history, and contextualizes events enough to allow even those very poorly educated in the matters of African colonization like myself to grasp some kind of understanding (or informed incomprehension).

I also appreciated hearing the voices of the Rwandans Gourevitch interviewed as part of his research and reporting. Both factions - Tutsis and Hutus - are represented, though the voices of the Tutsis are what shapes the narrative. These voices do not quite constitute an oral history, but offer the same effect: a nuanced and humanized perspective that is much more insightful into the human condition, imho, than traditional histories, which are fascinating of course, but which tend towards the abstract.

I am not quite sure how to rate other aspects of the work, but I also figure, any flaws are minor compared to the overall appraisal, which is that I thinkeveryone should read this book, because as humans, we should not be ignorant of such potentialities in our own natures. Usually when reading history, I am more critical (or at least, I try to be!) - but in this case, there is a dearth of written material on the subject, and general public awareness is also limited, if it exists at all. 

Also, the "flaws" I refer to may not even be flaws - one, for example, is that Gourevitch editorializes at times and does not always stick to the more detached journalistic voice. But... in this case - how can I blame him? Gourevitch is not a historian (plus historians editorialize all the time, if history is interpretation). And, as a child of Holocaust survivors, he is understandably passionately empathetic with the Tutsi's case (as probably we should all be, as human children).

Content-wise, I would not do the work any justice if I attempted any kind of brief summary. But I will say this: one aspect that sadly did not surprise me, yet still angered me to tears, was the "West's" complicity in both turning a blind-eye to the Tutsi's plight, and in fomenting conflict in the region to begin with in the process of colonization and subsequent support for dictatorial puppets. 

Highly Recommended.

Reviewed: 2015-08-25
Genocide > Rwanda > Genocide > Rwanda Rwanda > Ethnic relations > Rwanda > Ethnic relations Rwanda > Politics and government > Rwanda > Politics and government
Item Posts
No posts