Although it occurred only in 1994, the civil war in the tiny central African nation of Rwanda has already slipped from memory. In that country, writes Belgian historian Gérard Prunier, Tutsi and Hutu fell to slaughtering each other at the end of a long history of Belgian, German, and French colonialism that deliberately played on ethnic tensions. The final "historical product" was the murder of perhaps a million people and the displacement another two million, nearly half of the country's population all told. Prunier traces a course through the complex history of unrest and hatred that washed over Rwanda, and he looks deeply into the question of why this horror could have happened in an era of international peacekeeping. His conclusion is disturbing: "Genocides are a modern phenomenon--they require organization--and they are likely to become more frequent."
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'The most thorough treatment of the background to the massacres ... He presents his balanced and painstaking research with clarity and skill, and he shows how the ideological, political, and economic components of Rwanda's human time bomb slowly assembled... A former consultant to the Mitterrand government, Prunier is particularly well informed on the shameful role of the French in helping create the conditions that led to the 1994 explosion.'--Foreign Affairs 'Gerard Prunier's new history of the Rwandan genocide casts this sad moment into the black and white relief of print and commits to memory the struggle of those Rwandans who fell victim to the atrocities of last year's tragedy. His book is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives, and an important contribution to the work of understanding the complexities of modern conflict.' -- The Boston Book Revie 'Prunier's elucidation of [Rwanda's history] seems to me to be beyond praise. He has reconstructed the entire process by which a thorough modern genocide was planned.He has read all the documents. He has interviewed both perpetrators and survivors. He has anatomized the cold process of mass murder in both theory and practice.' -- Christopher Hitchens, Washington Post