UAS! Book Review: Shake Hands With The Devil- Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2013 at 5:31 am

Book_-_Romeo_Dallaire_-_Shake_Hands_With_The_DevilShake Hands With The Devil is a heart-wrenching book written by, now retired, Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire. In this book, you briefly follow his early life before plunging into the depths of his experience as Force Commander of UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission For Rwanada), and the terrible atrocities he witnessed.

Dallaire was born into a military family, with his father being in the nuts-and-bolts portion of the army. His father had served in WWII, and along the way, met his mother, who was 18 years younger. He always knew he would end up in the army, but he faced some very large obstacles along the way, such as the fact that he is a francophone, and attempted to join the military during the time when recruits from Quebec were at an all time low. Along with his Fracophone status, he was burdened by the fact that his father was an NCO (non-commissioned officer), which would make his admittance into military college all the harder. He persevered, and eventually graduated, though he was rock bottom of his class. He sped through the ranks, and was soon assigned to Rwanada for a UN mission in 1993, being the force commander. Little did he know, this mission would be a rude awakening for the world, and the UN especially. His life would never be the same again.

I absolutely love and hate this book. The content is amazing, but that is why I hate it. It grabs your heart, and wrenches into the dark reality of what happened in Rwanda. It was awakening.  It makes some feel ashamed that it was a fully preventable genocide, hampered by politics. It makes others angry. The storyline is dark, the depictions accurate, making it a book not for the faint of heart. No amount of skipping will help. You need to read every page, every sentence, to understand what is happening.  You will have to read the definitions at the bottom of the book, and do a bit of researching on your own time to get the full effect. The facts are not exaggerated. 800,000 deaths in 100 days. More than a million people displaced. All preventable. This book is a desperate plea for the public to never let these events occur again. The book itself is beautifully written, and tremendous act of bravery for Dallaire, as he try’s not to think of his experiences.

 I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to read it.  The dark storyline and depictions I mentioned earlier make it a difficult read for the apathetic individual, as with all books. Those brave enough to come to terms with what really happened, however,  will truly realize the implications this event had on society. Grade 9’s especially will find themes that may be relevant to their life, such as those portrayed through the end of the book, where Dallaire talks about his humanity versus his duty; making the right decisions. This is a astonishingly relevant theme, even today.  Through writing, Dallaire has achieved the impossible; touch the hearts of teenagers and adults alike. It also shows his position on discrimination, and how perseverance and courage will overcome all the obstacles in your way. I was deeply moved by this book (for the better, of course), and you will be too.


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