On the tenth anniversary of the date that UN peacekeepers landed in Rwanda, Random House Canada is proud to publish the unforgettable first-hand account of the genocide by the man who led the UN mission. Digging deep into shattering memories, General Dallaire has written a powerful story of betrayal, naïveté, racism and international politics. His message is simple and undeniable: “Never again.”
When Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN intervention in Rwanda in 1993, he thought he was heading off on a modest and straightforward peacekeeping mission. Thirteen months later he flew home from Africa, broken, disillusioned and suicidal, having witnessed the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in only a hundred days. In Shake Hands with the Devil, he takes the reader with him on a return voyage into the hell of Rwanda, vividly recreating the events the international community turned its back on. This book is an unsparing eyewitness account of the failure by humanity to stop the genocide, despite timely warnings.
Woven through the story of this disastrous mission is Dallaire’s own journey from confident Cold Warrior, to devastated UN commander, to retired general engaged in a painful struggle to find a measure of peace, reconciliation and hope. This book is General Dallaire’s personal account of his conversion from a man certain of his worth and secure in his assumptions to a man conscious of his own weaknesses and failures and critical of the institutions he’d relied on. It might not sit easily with standard ideas of military leadership, but understanding what happened to General Dallaire and his mission to Rwanda is crucial to understanding the moral minefields our peacekeepers are forced to negotiate when we ask them to step into the world’s dirty wars.
Excerpt from Shake Hands with the Devil
My story is not a strictly military account nor a clinical, academic study of the breakdown of Rwanda. It is not a simplistic indictment of the many failures of the UN as a force for peace in the world. It is not a story of heroes and villains, although such a work could easily be written. This book is a cri de coeur for the slaughtered thousands, a tribute to the souls hacked apart by machetes because of their supposed difference from those who sought to hang on to power. . . . This book is the account of a few humans who were entrusted with the role of helping others taste the fruits of peace. Instead, we watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect.
From the Hardcover edition.
“One of the year’s, if not the decade’s, most important events in Canadian publishing.”
—The Vancouver Sun
“Almost certainly the most important book published in Canada this year.”
—The Globe and Mail
“A book of astonishing power.... Here was a man who screamed into the void. No one listened, no one cared, no one heard. But he never stopped screaming. He valued every human life. He wept for every human loss. He never gave up.”
—Stephen Lewis, The Walrus
“This is a book to read — to understand what genocide means, to reflect on the failure of ‘humanity,’ and to be inspired by the courage of the few in the face of genocidal horror and international indifference.”
—Alison Des Forges, The Gazette (Montreal)
“On the enormously important issue of Third World development and the obligation of the Western world to assist the dispossessed, [the book] is a powerful cri de coeur for the powerless.”
“Read this book and rediscover, if you have lost it, your capacity for moral outrage.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire joined the Canadian army in 1964. Upon his return from serving as Force Commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he served as Commander of the 1st Canadian Division and Deputy-Commander of the Canadian Army. Promoted to Three-Star General, he was appointed to various senior positions including Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Military) in the Ministry of Defence. He continues to assist the Canadian Forces and Veterans’ Affairs in matters related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. General Dallaire was medically released from the Armed Forces in April 2000 due to PTSD, and is now Special Adviser to the Canadian Government on War Affected Children and the Prohibition of Small Arms Distribution. He is married and the father of three children.
Winner 2004 - Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award
Winner 2004 - Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing