Review: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

wish-to-informTitle:  We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Famlies: Stories from Rwanda

Author:  Philip Gourevitch

# of Pages:  353

Published:  September 1998

ISBN:  978-0374286972

My Rating:  4/5

In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority.  Over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews.  Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide’s background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.

Wow.  This is an extremely powerful book.  I had read some about the genocide in Rwanda before, I knew the basic story and the most general aspects of what happened, but I had nowhere NEAR the amount of knowledge about it that is packed into this book.  This is a fantastic book to read for people who enjoy history and/or politics, as well as world events in general.  There is so much information in these pages that truthfully I feel like I should read it again because I know it didn’t all sink in.  I’m not going to lie to you guys, We Wish to Inform You… is not an easy read.  Not even close.  It took me quite a while to get through it, just because of the sheer depth of information presented here – I had to read much more slowly than I normally do to make sure everything sunk in.  But I think it’s an important read… this does happen.  This did happen, and something similar is happening in Darfur as well.

One thing that makes this book different from many others in the same genre is that it specifically points out all the opportunities the world, the United States in particular, had to intervene in the genocide and stop it from happening, and every time nothing was done.  It is difficult to fully grasp the fact that not only did the world know this was happening, the major world powers did everything they could to deny that it was an actual genocide and to point blame at everyone but their own governments for not helping.  This information is not easy to read about, but at the same time, very important to know about.  The book also goes into extensive detail regarding the aftermath of the genocide, when Hutu killers were living in “refugee” camps and receiving foreign aid, and when surviving Tutsis had to go back to their homes, and carry on their lives living next door to the murderers of their parents, spouses, and children.  Can you imagine – having to look EVERY DAY at the face of the person who murdered every single person you love?  It is absolutely unbelievable.  Yet very few of the killers were put to justice, and the book covers a lot about the broken country of Rwanda after the genocide was “over” (I am putting “over” in quotation marks because there were plenty of killings for a long time after the genocide was thought to be over by the world).

Gourevitch is an amazing journalist – the way he brought this time to life for the reader is stunning.  He did a great job mixing politics with stories of genocide survivors – although there is a LOT of politics in this book.  His language is fantastic and kept me interested even when I wanted to put the book down because of how sad I was feeling.  I am very interested to see what else he has done, or what else he is currently working on.

Highly recommended.  We Wish to Inform You is not a peaceful, easy read by any means, but one that is absolutely worth your time.

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17 thoughts on “Review: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families”

  1. I’ve had this on my wishlist for a while, but I’ve been afraid to get to it because it sounds like the kind of book that will leave me feeling blah for a while. But like you so very well said, it’s important to know these things. I think I’m going to read it for Eva’s challenge.

  2. I’ve read quite a few memoirs about the genocide and how horrific this area in the world is. I can not even begin to fathom the hell these people go through on a daily basis. And I question as to why NO ONE seems to be doing anything to stop this terror!!

  3. I loved this one; we read it for my Intro to Creative Nonfiction class, and it inspired me to minor in journalism (of course, the intro to journalism class made me realise Gourevitch is *not* a typical reporter!).

  4. This sounds like a must read for me. I’ve been very interested in this subject for awhile now and am always open to reading more books on this subject.

  5. I have this on my TBR list for 2009. I have had it for a while and just have not got to it yet. Did you see the film Hotel Rwanda about the genocide? Don Cheadle does a fantastic job and it is one of my favorite movies. Using Netflix, I don’t own a lot of movies anymore, but I own this one. It is so powerful.

    It is so sad to see the same thing happening in Darfur and also to the Palestinians (though not in the same intensity, I don’t think…) and as powerful as these books and movies and news stories are, people are rarely moved to do anything more than talk about how horrible it is. I am just as guilty. I have been wanting to get on with UNICEF for a while now but that is pretty hard for me to do since I have poor health and can’t work in the field (which is what I would love to do, unfortunately). The desk jobs are hard to come by and I don’t have the field experience.

    But it is important to continue to read about it, write about it, and share it with others. You are helping the victims and the cause just by writing a book review!

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