Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina

Don't let the title fool you, Paul Rusesabagina is no Ordinary Man. The inspiration behind the movie Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina comes out with his autobiography to give you a richer view of his life, Rwanda, and what happened inside of the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines that saved the lives of over 1,200 Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide.
Rusesabagina grew up on the side of a hill - like all Rwandan children do since the Rwandan geography is formed of valleys and peaks - to a banana farmer. A modest upbringing, Rusesabagina dreamed of moving to the city. He quit his education of becoming a priest so he could do just that. Yet as Paul brings the reader closer and closer to what happened during the genocide, it is amazing how every step of Paul's life seemed to carve out his future so that he would be a saviour to the Tutsi's hiding in his hotel.
Paul believes that words can stop violence and he shows just how true that is in this story. Drawing on all of his past - including living in a farm, going through some of priest-school, and operating 2 hotels in the Kigali region - Paul somehow manages to save the imminent slaughter of the Tutsis that have found refuge in his hotel. How exactly this happened is unbelievable. There was nothing stopping the Hutu supporters from barging into the hotel and killing everyone inside. Yet somehow, through the grace of god (though Paul admits, he's lapsed in his religious ways due to the genocide, and who can blame him?), and Paul's quick wit, they all manage to survive.
Paul does not hold back in his disdain for those who never came to help. He is disgusted with the UN, and specifically Kofi Anann, who told the UN in Rwanda not to do anything. He is disgusted at how the USA would not call the acts a genocide so that they would not have to do anything about it.
And while he describes the genocide, it is with utmost respect for the dead. Without being graphic, Paul paints a picture that still makes your stomach turn simply due to the magnitude of the horror.
This is a story that everyone should read. Paul is a hero, or as he would like you to say it, he did his job, but he did it damn well. Can Paul's story teach us to never again let humanity commit these horrible acts? Probably not. But it can make each of us slightly more aware of what is going on in the world.
I don't think I've ever given a book a review of 5/5 on this blog before. So here you go - my very first 5/5 review!



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