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The remarkable life story of the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda Readers who were moved and horrified by Hotel Rwanda will respond even more intensely to Paul Rusesabagina’s unforgettable autobiography. As Rwanda was thrown into chaos during the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, turned the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200The remarkable life story of the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda Readers who were moved and horrified by Hotel Rwanda will respond even more intensely to Paul Rusesabagina’s unforgettable autobiography. As Rwanda was thrown into chaos during the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, turned the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees, while fending off their would-be killers with a combination of diplomacy and deception. In An Ordinary Man, he tells the story of his childhood, retraces his accidental path to heroism, revisits the 100 days in which he was the only thing standing between his “guests” and a hideous death, and recounts his subsequent life as a refugee and activist....

Title : an ordinary man an autobiography
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ISBN : 6661161
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 236 Pages
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an ordinary man an autobiography Reviews

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-11-07 23:24

    Onvan : An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography - Nevisande : Paul Rusesabagina - ISBN : 143038605 - ISBN13 : 9780143038603 - Dar 224 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006

  • Lindsey
    2018-11-13 23:34

    Be careful with this story. Paul Rusesabagina is an incredibly controversial and unpopular character in Rwanda on all sides of the conflict, and not just because he's spoken out against Paul Kagame. Many Rwandese (including victims of the genocide) feel as if he exaggerated his tale in order to paint himself in the best light. For example, the idea that he was able to save lives by bribing the Interahamwe with the contents of a liquor cabinet is ludicrous. Many people believe that he was able to provide safety by carefully choosing who he took in- such as the wealthy Tutsi wives of Hutu commanders. While Rusesabagina saved many lives, nobody really knows what happened in the Milles Collines and it is possible he cannot be taken at his word. If you want accurate and corroborated books that tell the story of the genocide or its aftermath, there are much better choices. Try "We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" or "The Antelope's Strategy."

  • Libby
    2018-10-16 20:23

    Paul Rusesabagina became known as the man who hid "1,268 people" (pg. iv) inside the Hotel Mille Collines, in Rwanda's capital city of Kigali, in 1994. The refugees who stayed at Hotel Milles Collines were kept safe because Paul saved up gestures of goodwill as favors combined with the use of what appeared to be protection, luxury, friendly-natured relationships with Hutu leaders to stave off slaughters and other abuses from occurring at the hotel. Outside, "…800,000 people were butchered by their friends, neighbors and countrymen" (pg. x). His story became the basis for a movie, "Hotel Rwanda." It was as much a story of the country's colonialist history and resulting genocide as it was about "An Ordinary Man," the name of this book, written collaboratively with Tom Zoellner."There was never any 'Hutu homeland' or 'Tutsi homeland.' What divided us was an invented history" (pg 16). The year 1885 was significant in Rwanda's history because it held the Berlin Conference, a meeting which enabled the Germans to carve up their stronghold in Africa without consideration of its inhabitants. During WWI, Germany had to withdraw from Rwanda and surrendered it to Belgium. Unlike the Germans, Belgium opted to colonize Rwanda, extract its resources and abuse its people. Slavery existed, but nobody called it by that name. Hutus took the brunt of the abuses because the Belgians had placed the Tutsi in power positions. By 1993, all Rwandan were mandated to carry ethnic identification cards. As world opinion of colonialism changed, Belgium started to remove itself from Rwanda, disassociate itself from the Tutsi, and placed the Hutu in power. Paul's father had invited some Tutsi to stay with the family after the people had escaped during the practice genocide attacks of the "Hutu Revolution of 1959" (pg. 14). In 1973, Burundi's "president ordered his armed forces to crack down on Hutu uprising, and these soldiers took their mission beyond the bounds of rationality" (pg. 19). Burundi soldiers' behavior received support in Rwanda by allowing this course of action to continue into the second country. Rwanda existed as Burundi's sister country in ethnic composition because the two used to be united as one land. The shared culture believed that paternal bloodline determined the ethnicity of one's offspring; so, this same year was when Paul's childhood friend was kicked out of their school for his paternal Tutsi heritage. Paul's father was Hutu; so at that point in history his mom's Tutsi heritage did not force Paul from school. This was one of Paul's early lessons in the cruel reality of his own country's institutionalized racism. The author educated the reader as to the formation and audience development of Rwanda's first radio station and its long-term plan to be an integral part of both the propaganda and psychological operations of the genocide. When electricity was cut off to most areas, the station continued to perform because its energy source was connected to the Rwandan president's house. In 1994, the already-stationed UN Peacekeepers could have easily snuffed out the war at the launch of the coup due to Rwandan respect for law enforcement. Since the international soldiers were restricted to observational behavior, events escalated from small to massive-scale in a short period of time. Paul explained of how a United Nations representative from Canada, General Romeo Dallaire, wanted to cut the energy supply to the radio station. The general made every effort to suppress attacks and command a successful operation, but his senior management forbade him from progressive forms of action. This international-level decision proved to be an unwise one; "…800,000 people were butchered by their friends, neighbors and countrymen" (pg. x).Retrospective comments about the genocide were Paul's observations pertaining to human nature. Humans are/were naturally born into a herd mentality; as such, group behaviors become routine to the extent that the ordinary business of killing loses its excitement factor. "And all genocides rely heavily on the power of group thinking to embolden the everyday killers. It is the most important commodity of all, and without it no genocide could take place" (pg. 193). Paul asserted that genocide should never be dismissed as a country's or people's acceptable behavior. The dismissal mindset motivated international entities to remain disengaged during a critical period that most likely would have crippled the genocide.Every story that Paul shared had a purpose. Everything in this book was deliberate. It was a gripping story with a worldwide lesson to be learned. Its valuable impact should not be trivialized.

  • Becky
    2018-11-15 01:09

    I was only 12 years old when the genocide in Rwanda took place. I heard about it on the news my dad watched every night, but admittedly I was not exactly politically observant back then, and the news was nothing more than background noise to me, so I knew next to nothing when I saw "Hotel Rwanda". The movie was eye-opening, to say the least, and I was incredibly moved by it. But I hadn't known that Paul Rusesabagina had written a book until very recently when I happened to stumble on it here on Goodreads. I'm very glad that I discovered it here, and I'm even more glad to have read it. For some strange reason, I tend to gravitate towards emotionally difficult subject matter when it comes to my reading material. I've only recently realized this about myself, but I've always been drawn to books about devastating subjects - death, loss, abuse, the holocaust etc. I don't really know why I read these, but I know that they affect me immensely, and that I love the raw feeling that I have when I have read something emotionally horrifying, when I just feel incredibly lucky to be who and where I am. Maybe that makes me a little callous, but if so, then so be it. I think that the gut-wrenching stories help us to understand ourselves and each other and the world better, and there is just something wonderful about books that take us out of ourselves to walk a mile in someone else's shoes - even when there is a rock in one. So, with that being said, when I saw that Rusesabagina had written his story down, I needed to read it. I had been moved, and awakened, by the movie, and I was thrilled that there was an autobiography that would allow me to learn more about the man himself, and the country that had caused so much devastation for itself and its people. The book was not nearly as emotionally moving as it could have been. It was written very simply, and directly. No suspense, no drama, just his story in everyday language. A better author could have wrung every tear and every heartache out of these 207 pages, and Rusesabagina did not do that. This is not a criticism though. The lack of artistry lends it a truth and a weight that would have felt fake and forced had it been more showy. Rusesabagina simply told his and his country's story as he understood it. I enjoyed reading it immensely. It felt intimate, like Rusesabagina and I were having a conversation. This was not the best written book, and I counted quite a few incongruent details and typos and grammatical errors, but aside from that, this was an incredibly compelling story. It did not move me in the same way that I'm used to with talented authors who excel at shaping their words carefully to evoke a desired response out of the reader. This isn't that kind of story. Rusesabagina simply and honestly introduced us to his Rwanda, the Rwanda he grew up in and loved and would always love, and also the sinister Rwanda lurking just under the surface, which would rise in 1994 to kill 800,000 people in a little over 3 months. He gave us the the Cliff's Notes edition of Rwandan history, which showed how something like this could happen, in this day and age, when we've supposedly learned this lesson before. He tells us how the world's most powerful nations failed to act to prevent the massacre, and how he used his wits and his courage and his words and connections alone to save over 1,200 people from a certain and gruesome death. I don't know how true his story is, but there is a bibliography at the end with other books on the subject, which has given me a place to start, if I decide to read more, specifically "Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide in Rwanda" by Alison Des Forges and "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda" by Philip Gourevitch. Even if it is not 100% true, and he's allowed time and memory and perception to rewrite some of the specifics, it doesn't really matter to me. I just know that Rusesabagina's is a heroic and brave story that inspires me. He saved people when his entire country had gone mad. If even half of the thoughts and wisdom imparted actually went through Rusesabagina's head in the moment, then he is nothing less than awe-inspiring and amazingly wise. He shows how a person can rise above the mob mentality and be a hero just by showing common decency and refusing to falter. He shows how a situation like this can happen,and predicted it will happen again, but most importantly, he shows that there is good and evil in all of us, and it is our choice which one we will let rule us. Rusesabagina's version of "ordinary" is one that we should all aspire to be, I think.

  • David P
    2018-10-22 22:30

    The book's title is a wry understatement: it is an autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager whose courage, resourcefulness, shrewd tact and personal presence saved more than 1000 lives when a spasm of genocide swept Rwanda in 1994. It is the story of his entire life, from village childhood in the "country of a thousand hills" in central Africa, to reluctant exile after the genocide. If you have seen the film "Hotel Rwanda," you already know about him. But where a movie, even a powerfully moving one, gives at most momentary glimpses, this small book paints a much more comprehensive picture. By all means, read it. Slowly. If you have not seen the film, read the book first, then go watch it. The film itself packs an enormous emotional punch, but with the book you suddenly understand it much better. Indeed, this ought to be required reading in high schools and universities anywhere, teaching a lesson any young citizen needs to absorb when facing the 21st century. A lesson about genocide, about a willful attempt by one social group to exterminate another, and if the one of Rwanda may not have been the largest one, the authors here show (and Tom Zoellner shares full credit) that it stood out from the rest in ferocity, intensity and cruelty. The forces which led to genocide built up over many years. Rwanda and its sister-state Burundi are two small states on the spine of Africa, enormously fertile and densely populated by two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. That division, Rusesabagina makes clear, was the root of the evil which followed. In the middle 1800s, the writings of explorer John Hanning Speke presented it as a fact of life, and the rest of the world accepted it without question--tall, elite Tutsis who had arrived from the east and tended animals, and squat Hutu peasant farmers from west Africa, a lower class in society. Maybe at one time such a division existed, but intermarriage and a common language and culture (many had become Christian) gradually blurred it. There was nothing unusual in Rusesabagina, a Hutu, taking a Tutsi wife. What sustained and strengthened the division were the Belgian colonial rulers, whose identity cards demanded the bearer to be ethnically defined as Hutu or Tutsi. Dividing the country helped their rule, but it also sowed new seeds of hatred. After WW-II, when Belgium and other colonial powers left Africa, corrupt politics soon brought a general deterioration. The Hutu majority group ruled the country, and in the early 90s it launched by radio a vicious campaign of hate propaganda. A militant organization formed and weapons were hoarded, preparing to "ethnically clean" the country of its "cockroaches." Tutsis exiled to neighboring countries meanwhile established their own military force. The storm broke in April 1994, with the murder by missile of the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi (no one ever found who did it). What followed is hard to describe in just a few sentences. In all, about 800,000 people died within 100 days, more than a tenth of the population. Most were Tutsis, but Hutus trying to stem the hate died too. Ordinary citizens, seemingly peaceful and friendly, suddenly ganged up on their neighbors, hacking them apart with machetes, then looting their homes. At roadblocks, passengers were taken off cars and those with Tutsi identity cards were hacked to pieces, their bodies rotting by the wayside or floating down a river. The spasm of violence might have been nipped in the bud--but the UN stood aside and ordered its troops not to intervene, while France, hoping to gain political influence, actually helped arm the Hutus, and protected them after they were beaten. All this is described in a measured, matter-of-fact language by Rusesabagina, in the tone of a citizen used to peace and order, yet forced by circumstances to face raw evil. And yet those sober, controlled words convey their message more forcefully than any outraged adjectives could do. Here is the manager of the most prestigious hotel of the capital, skilled in catering to the needs of important visitors and pleasing diverse guests in an orderly and non-obtrusive fashion--and suddenly he is in a battle zone, his hotel turned into an unarmed city of refuge. Lesser men may have tried to flee, less resourceful ones may have died--indeed, he himself was reconciled to the thought of never getting out alive. Yet he survived, as did every person in his hotel. Luck helped, of course, again and again. But it would not have happened without the author's strong moral character, and the book also tells (what the movie does not) how that character was molded by a strict but kind family, especially by a mentoring and encouraging father. Luck alone would not have sufficed without the author's fine-tuned psychological insight. People who may seem purely evil, he tells us, often have hard and soft sides to their personality--for instance, that police chief siding with the murderers may not be completely at peace with what he is doing. Avoid judgment, find his soft side, and gently encourage it. Talk to the enemy holding a gun on you--if he converses with you, he is less likely to shoot. Bring out a bottle of good wine, share it with the general leading the gangs, and talk to him over drinks. It may help. The film ends when all the hotel's occupants escape to the Tutsi rebels, but the book goes on, and the story is not all sunny. The Tutsi forces too were harsh, and did not always distinguish friend from foe. After they capture the capital city Kigali, many of the country's Hutus, guilty and innocent alike, flee in panic across the border. Rusesabagina's nightmare seems over: new identity papers omit any ethnic identification, and once again he manages a high class hotel. But devastation remains. Of the family of his brother-in-law, only two little girls survive, whom he raises with his own children. Laconically he comments "I have lost four of my eight siblings. ... For a Rwandan family, this is a comparatively lucky outcome." And the dangers remain, too: enemies are still loose, often unidentified. His life is threatened and he ends up accepting asylum in Belgium and driving a cab in Brussels. Hard work brings prosperity--another cab and more, then a trucking company in Zambia, and then quite by chance, his story is discovered and made into a film. After a delay of years, Paul is acclaimed for his heroic deeds and even invited to the White House. But he still cannot return home. True peace continues to elude Rwanda, whose new government again seems to enter a path of cronyism and corruption, evils which preceded the genocide. It is a small country with limited area and resources, far from stable Europe and from an indifferent US. Can the past horrors happen again? The authors fear that they can, and give convincing reasons. There is much to be learned from this honest tale, and Rosesabagina and Zoellner express it quite well. They have no solution, no one does, but if one is reached some day, this slim book has been an important contribution towards it. Read it!

  • Joanna
    2018-10-17 21:32

    First, listening to this book on audio was extremely powerful. So much so that I actually had to stop the CD, stop the car, then turn it back on to listen to because it was so moving and was making it hard for me to concentrate on driving. The author manages to use direct language to tell his amazing story of being the manager of a hotel in Rwanda during the genocide. He managed to turn the hotel into a refugee base and, amazingly, held off the militia and other killers for 76 days, saving the lives of more than 1000 people.The book provides an extremely harsh view of the world's failure, and particularly the failure of the United States and the United Nations, to intervene in the early days of the genocide to prevent the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The author also tells the story of both his negotiations with specific individuals and the story of what happened to others that he knew.I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Though the subject matter is disturbing, it's an important piece of world history.

  • Margie
    2018-11-01 00:11

    It's hard to review a true story about something terrible. An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography, though, isn't a book about the Rwandan massacre; it's a book about Paul Rusesabagina's experience of it. His voice, his personality, his clear-sightedness all come through brilliantly in this co-written autobiography.What struck me most about this book was how apt the title is. Under extraordinary circumstances, this ordinary man did the extraordinary. He managed to keep more than 1200 people safe while genocide was taking place mere hundreds of yards away.I won't go into the details of how Rusesabagina managed to do what he did - if you want to know, read the book. I will just note, though, that he's not a magician. He used his skills, training, and supplies at hand to fend off an army. What this ordinary man did was amazing, and a blessing to the world.

  • Natalie Richards
    2018-11-13 01:13

    I have read about the controversy that surrounds Paul Rusesabagina; how he has allegedly embellished his role in the saving of over 1,200 lives during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and incites further hate when giving talks about his experiences during that time..but I am glad that I read this book. I remember watching the news in horror all those years ago and reading this book brought back those awful memories. If this book is a true account of what happened during those 100 days 1994, then he is indeed a remarkable man.

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2018-10-23 00:13

    This is the memoir of Paul Ruseabagina, a hotel manager in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. With "a cooler of beer, a leather binder, and a hidden phone" he saved 1,268 people. This is the story of how he used those tools to schmooze and persuade and bribe and conjole to keep the killers from murdering those under his protection. He dealt with some odious people, but as he put it in his concluding chapter, "[e]xcept in extreme circumstances it very rarely pays to show hostility to the people in your orbit." He was able to save those people because he was willing and able to sit down with killers, ply them with cognac and not flinch. That leather binder was filled with high-level contacts he had made in years of treating VIP hotel guests graciously. He wrote that no one is completely good or evil, and what he looked for was not the good or evil side but rather the "soft" versus the "hard" side. Sometimes that meant appealing to self-interest, greed or vanity--not just moral qualms. His approach and outlook on people reminded me of a quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that "the line separating good and evil passes... right through every human heart." Ruseabagina calls this memoir "an ordinary man" and in the introduction insists he's no hero.I beg to differ.Along the way the book examines the nature of genocide and what caused it to break out in Rwanda, what different infamous 20th century genocides share, and what could have prevented it. A lot went into the toxic cocktail. A legacy of European "divide and conquer" colonialism in Rwanda that ingrained and further stratified what were only (somewhat fluid) class divisions into racial divisions between the Tutsi and the Hutus. Preferential racial policies requiring racial registration and identification and which group was in favor swung back and forth between them depending on who was in power. One big contributor that surprised me was the poisonous role of talk radio that whipped up and organized the murderous hatred, calling Tutsi "cockroaches" and even giving out names and locations of people to murder. Those were some of the internal factors. Ruseabagina also points outward to world indifference--particularly blaming the United Nations and the United States. I have to admit to feeling ambivalent about that as an American. I don't believe we should be the world's 911--and we get in trouble when we try. But I can't imagine saying that to Rusabagina's face without flinching--800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered right in front of the eyes of the world in around three months. It's hard not to respond to his plea that we mean it when we say "never again" and do better in the future in preventing genocide than the ineffectual UN efforts that stood by as so many were slaughtered. And actually maybe that's part of why Ruseabagina called this book An Ordinary Man--because he wants to emphasize what he did was nothing extraordinary, nothing beyond the reach of an ordinary person--in other words, no we do not get off the hook. At the very least, the book makes you think--it's a gripping quick read and very informative.

  • Judith
    2018-11-06 20:23

    The title was, to me, offputting initially. It seemed like false modesty. "Oh, but I'm just an ordinary man...". But I changed my mind after listening. Rusesabagina saved over a twelve hundred people from death during the short massacre in Rwanda in 1994. He calculated that he saved a matter of a few hours' worth of deaths, based on the rate of killing in those few months, a rate unsurpassed by any other genocide in recorded history. How did he do it? And why? He gives us quite a clue when he tells us about his childhood. His father was a leader in his village, and he was not afraid of death. He hid people during an earlier attempt at genocide, in the 1950s. He also provided Paul with an example of a person untainted by the absurd prejudices of the time. Through this volume we become familiar with the history of Rwanda. Simply put, it was white conquerers, particularly Belgian, who set the hutus against the tutsis by defining the different groups prejudicially: the tutsis were the refined, intelligent leaders, while the hutus were only suitable for slave labor, essentially. This distinction served the Belgians well but in no way reflected reality. In fact, the two groups had been mixed for many years, to the point where almost everyone was really neither one or the other, and the two were never that different in the first place.Paul had a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father. In Rwanda, this meant he was Tutsi. Yet one of his close friends from childhood, with a Tutsi father and Hutu mother, was defined as Tutsi and was forced to leave school.In the early 1990s a civilian radio station came on the air. At first it was all fun and provided a pleasant contrast to the government-run stations. But gradually it used its power to reach people to spread a message of hatred against the Tutsis. Paul placed the blame for the genocide primarily at the feet of this station, which, it turns out, actually was government-run after all. But back to Paul and how he was able to be effective in his role as hotel manager. He was detail-oriented and fit the job of hotel manager very well. The French owners o the Hotel Mille Collines recognized his talent and sent him to hotel school and later placed him as manager. This was quite a coup for a black man working in a luxury hotel in Rwanda. Paul did not let the owners down. He was meticulous and careful and used his position to get to know the regulars, including many in the military and government. He was later able to use these connections to good effect. It is hard to imagine a world where you wake up one morning and find that one of your neighbors is attacking another with a machete. Yet this is the world Paul did wake to, and strived to understand. IN this memoir he does an excellent job of explaining the basis for the race hatred, the not-so-subtle propaganda, and the genocide. It is difficult to understand a situation where friends suddenly become enemies, where children are slaughtered along with their parents. Paul provides an explanation that we should pay attention to.

  • Elizabeth Nixon
    2018-11-11 22:18

    I can't claim I know everything about this, or what happened during the genocide, but since I left for Rwanda in January, I've been hearing an entirely different story. This article summarizes what I've been hearing on the matter...again, not my expertise, but Rusesabagina is not a hero in Rwanda, and I think there's a good reason. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisf...

  • Bobcesca
    2018-10-17 18:31

    Paul Rusesabagina has been hailed, outside of Rwanda, as a hero. However, having spoken to Rwandans his story is full of inaccuracies and takes credit for other people's sacrifices. There are so many stories of selfless people during the genocide who did whatever they could to help their countrymen, this is not one of them.

  • Anna
    2018-11-16 00:13

    This book was amazing, but not a pleasure to read most of the time. This covers some really difficult ground. I don't know if I agree with all the authors conclusions and ideas but I loved that despite all that had happened he concludes with hope.Popsugar challenge 2017: a book set in a hotel.

  • Eustacia Tan
    2018-11-01 18:10

    Ok, some of you may have watched the movie Hotel Rwanda. I did, and I cried bucketloads. If you haven't, then you should. Anyway, An Ordinary Man is the autobiography of the man whom the movie is based on. Paul Rusesabagina was the hotel manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines during the Rwanda Genocide who saved 1268 Tutsi and moderate Hutu people.Or as he put it, 4 hours worth of lives out of a hundred days.In his autobiography, Mr. Rusesabagina talks about how the genocide started, and what he did in order to keep his hotel running and protect the refugees. He had to make nice with some very bad people, but he did what he had to do, and he saved many lives. To him, that's the normal thing to do. I say the guy's a hero for holding on to his humanity in such terrible days.In fact, I basically had tears pricking the back of my eyes as I was reading this book, especially towards the end. If I wasn't in public, I probably would have cried.What struck me the most was his reasons for why the genocide started. According to him, the division between the Hutu and the Tutsis were imposed by the colonial powers as a divide and conquer rule. And the reason why it worked so well was because it appealed to one basic aspect of people's nature:There is something living deep within us all that welcomes, even relishes, the role of victimhood for ourselves. There is no cause in the world more righteously embraced than our own when we feel someone has wronged us.I think that is very true. If we're the victim, it's easy enough to want to do something to stand-up for ourselves, and to translate thoughts into actions. Conversely, if someone else is the victim, it's much easier to stand by. Call it the by-stander effect, if you will.And the way nations just stood by while the genocide happened is just chilling. Mostly because it could so easily happen today. For example, ASEANS non-interference principle, which I happen to support in most circumstances, could be used to engineer conditions for yet another genocide. It hasn't happened yet, but looking at things like the Rohingya crisis scares me into think that it's totally possible.All in all, this is a powerful story, simply told. The author doesn't bother dressing the story up in fancy language, probably because he doesn't have to. The narrative itself is a powerful message for all of us, and because it's told so simply, its power is amplified.This is a book everyone should read.This review was first posted at Inside the mind of a Bibliophile

  • Clif Hostetler
    2018-11-13 23:35

    He may have been an ordinary man before being placed in an extraordinary situation. But he responded with extraordinary actions. He is no longer an ordinary man in my view. He's a living saint if there ever was one.This is a story about the right man with the right abilities at a bad place at a horrible time. It is unlikely that any other person could have accomplished what he did at that time and place. He had the right combination of social intelligence and ability to read the personalities of others to save the lives of 1,268 people. In the process of doing this he had to bargain with obviously evil people who he didn't like or respect. But he had the self control to maintain a friendly face and the endurance to flatter and manipulate as needed. There were obviously many times during the 76 days when everyone in the hotel would have been killed but for his well timed actions. The book is Paul Rusesabagina's memoir of his life. The book begins with him describing his youth and family he was born in. He then describes Rwanda's history. Then he follows his life as a young man and describes how he ended up being a hotel manager. This background offers an insight into why and how the Rwandan genocide occurred. But of course genocide can never make sense, but at least the book's history explains the events leading up to it.This book gives me hope that good people can be found almost anywhere. Toward the end of the book he describes numerous brave cases where shelter was provided for the targets of the killers. Unfortunately, there are never enough good people when they're needed. It's interesting to note that Rwanda is the most heavily Christianized country in Africa. Some 90 percent of the people identify themselves as Christians. Yet all of this Christianity did not prevent neighbors hacking approximately 800,000 of their neighbors to death with machetees. This should place a touch of humility upon those of us who say that Christianity has a message of peace and justice. Paul Rusesabagina says in the book, "I felt that God left me on my own during the genocide. .... I share this yearning in my heart with other Rwandans, was God hiding from us during the killing?"

  • Histteach24
    2018-10-15 20:20

    Although I've read so many books about Rwanda, I really enjoyed this book because you get a personal perspective from Paul himself. I learned a great deal about the history of the ethnic divide and Rwandan culture that I did not know before. It gave new insight to the background of the genocide. I also felt that Paul's poetic way of using metaphors to explain his thought process made this an easy read that flowed. He is a keen observer of human nature and human spirit. Many people have questioned his ability to be able to keep all of the people alive in his hotel when so often they were close to being killed. After reading this book, I see why he was successful. He posses an intelligence that most people lack-that of common sense, patience, and the ability to read other people. I also found his argument compelling. It is one I have used with my own students when discussing the Holocaust. How can genocide occur when there are so many more bystanders and victims than aggressors? Why aren't more people like Paul? If more people stopped turning a blind eye to hatred and violence and stood up for what they knew in their hearts was truth genocide would not occur and ruthless dictators would lose power. I can't wait to discuss this with psychology teachers. Paul may be right-our worst enemy is group think and greed.I also thought this was a raw and realistic look at the effects of imperialism, the lack of compassion and greed of world powers, and the U.N.'s inability to see people as belonging to a rich culture and not just a map you can divide up and hand out with a few marks of a pencil. Oh if only we could have coffee with the Big Four after WWI and see if they would have made the same choices about the map if they could see what history was waiting in the future because of their decisions.

  • Jocelyn
    2018-11-05 01:24

    Paul Rusesabagina may be an ordinary man but he tells an extraordinary story. During the Rwandan genocide, he protected 1,268 people in the luxury hotel he was managing. His assets: a swimming pool full of water; a large supply of alcoholic beverages; a long list of important connections (many of whom owed him personal favors); a secret telephone line that was never cut; training in (and I'm sure a personal talent for) the art of negotiation. The swimming pool was for water rations. The rest was for convincing influential people not to kill the refugees in the hotel.Rusesabagina (with his co-author Tom Zoellner) uses a direct, personal style. He is not shy about placing blame on the international community. The UN was warned about government preparations for mass murders, yet refused to act. The US, still smarting from losses in Somalia, was reluctant to get involved. France chose to support the Francophone government as opposed to its opposition, which had sought shelter in English-speaking Uganda. Rusesabagina even names names: UN peace-keeping chief Kofi Annan; US President Bill Clinton; French President Francois Mitterand. He tells how the Rwandan government planned the killings and recruited the militias. He gives first- and second-hand accounts of the atrocities. Most of all, he explains how he cared for his hotel "guests" while negotiating with army and government officials. He discusses the dynamics of genocide, genocide prevention, and the need for retributive justice. He expresses compelling opinions and outlines attractive strategies. And it's hard to disagree with his last sentence: "Wherever the killing season should next begin and people should become strangers to their neighbors and themselves, my hope is that there will still be those ordinary men who say a quiet no and open the rooms upstairs."

  • Roger Smitter
    2018-11-02 19:07

    Near the end of An Ordinary Man, author Paul Rusesabagina sums up the genocide in Rwanda with a reminder that “the message crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term “cockroach”, the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia.”This theme also turns up in book I read before An Ordinary Man: Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. Inhumanity begins not with big events but small events repeated all the time by thousands, even millions of persons. Rusesabagina’s narrative is a very straight forward retelling of the decisions he made in the face of genocide to save the lives of 1200+ people in Rawanda. He demonstrates a quick mind that gets him and others out of way of madmen. He provides a concise but powerful history of Rawanda that does not take sides. His brief pauses from the exciting narrative focus on how ethical standards drive actions reveal leadership. As a former college professor, I often consider how my Goodreads selections could have been used in the classroom. Even after 10 years since the civil war in Rwanda, this book would engage students in sociology, psychology, ethics, and leadership classes. This is because we see Rusesabagina as a man grounded in a power ethical stance who is able to make deals when he needs to in order to save lives.

  • Stephanie
    2018-10-31 01:35

    A quick read, but not a light one- in fact, after reading this on the train on the way home from work, I had to read something funny because I was so sad. And also angry that for 100 days the rest of the world did nothing to stop it: the US just debated whether or not it was really genocide, and the UN just pulled all of their people out, abandoning thousands to torture and murder. The author is the subject of the film, Hotel Rwanda. His story of his efforts to save his family and as many of his fellow Rwandans as possible during the genocide of 1994 is heartbreaking, and inspiring. The book is written simply, and although his actions were absolutely heroic by any measure, there is never a tone of boasting about what he did, and he makes sure to mention the actions by others that were no less heroic. He also insists that despite everything he saw and experienced, he believes that the default nature of humankind is not to kill, but to live life peaceably with each other. I think that says much about the kind of man he is, that he can still believe that after 800,000 of his countrymen and women were slaughtered by their former friends and neighbors.I loved the line with which he closes: "Wherever the killing season should next begin and people should become strangers to their neighbors and themselves, my hope is that there will still be those ordinary men who say a quiet no and open the rooms upstairs."

  • Lynne
    2018-11-07 01:22

    Rusesabagina and his co-author, Tim Zoellner, in simple, direct language tell what it is like to be in hell...the genocide in Rwanda. The book makes it clear that history and fear can come together to unleash evil. The government controlled media play a critical role as well here. They also make the point that no human being is simply evil, that each has a soft side. It is that to which Rusesabagina appealed time and time again to save the people in his hotel. The book begins with a wonderful look at the landscape an culture o fthis tiny country, almost a village of a country, in the heart of Africa, caught up in the struggle for colonial power. It is filled with Rwandan sayings like, "the elephants fight, but it is the grass that suffers." There is the wonderful description of the preparation and traditional uses of banana beer, the Rwandan national drink. In their form of small claims court, after one side is forced to apologize and make restitution to the other, both parties and any witnesses drink a banana beer from the same straw. That was before the slaughter. They are trying to restore this gacaca, justice on the grass, where the point is "not punishment but reconciliation." It seems the only way forward in Rwanda. In the world. But Rusesabagina feels that it is inadequate to deal with the horrendous crime of genocide, that "we are not binding up the wounds of history." He is not ready to say it is over.

  • Lotte
    2018-11-11 22:14

    An autoboigraphy of Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda. I found the movie compelling and memorable and when I saw the book on Kimberlie's list decided I really wanted to read it. Having little knowledge of Rwanda, this book provided me with enough history to understand better the forces at work in Rwanda leading to the genocide of 1994, as well as enough of Paul's personal observations on the culture, geography, and personality of the people that I felt a love for the people and their country. An Ordinary Man is the story of Paul R. and his family, set into the background of the 1994 genocide, and the role that Mr. R. plays in saving everyone he could get behind the doors of the hotel he managed for a Belgian firm. It is without question graphic, but a genocide where the chief weapon was the machete could not described without disturbing images. We should be greatly disturbed since the actions of the US, the UN, and Europe were reprehensible. Lissi mentioned that in a law class they had recently watched a PBS Frontline special entitled Ghosts of Rwanda, a documentary made in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the genocide. I now have it on reserve at the library.

  • Chenoa Siegenthaler
    2018-11-11 18:10

    This book is a very well-written account of Rusesabagina's experience as a hotel manager during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He also explores the historical and sociological context for the events. It blew my mind. It's almost unbelievable to me that so many people could be led to do so many horrible deeds; and yet this book explores how this happened in such a way that it's a bit more within my comprehension how such things happen. I think this is a very important thing to be aware of, given that it's likely that many more similar events will happen in various parts of the world, within our lifetimes. Another thing that this book explains is that the international community ignored this genocide and allowed it to go on for so long. I hope, with greater consciousness of this, we can work towards developing an international community that will be intolerant of such crimes against humanity.

  • Mike
    2018-10-21 02:25

    Paul Rusesabagina is an Oscar Schindler for Africa, for the late 20th century. Less than fifty years after the Nuremburg trials, with endless 'never again' promises ringing in the world's ears, a French-sponsored government killed a million people in a matter of weeks, leaving their corpses where they fell in their lust for another kill. The Clinton administration refused to help, the Mitterand presidency actively supported the killers, the Belgians bulked at the monster they had created and the UN waited until the rebel army had arrived before sheltering the murderers, having withdrawn the troops sent in to keep the peace. Kofi Annan, UN head of peacekeeping at the time, went on to take the top job in that organisation, while Paul Rusesabagina fled to Belgium in fear of his life, the lives of 1,268 ordinary Rwandans in his debt.Rusesabagina's story is one we should not have had to read again, but is one that everyone should have to read now.

  • Navy heart HamlinNBCT
    2018-10-31 01:11

    In 2006 I was blessed with the gift of history about a very special man-A man who earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Civil Rights Museum's 2005 Freedom Award- An ordinary man , hired by the Swiss hotel chains to manage a luxury hotel chain, is an understatement. During the years during Rwanda's genocide Janet Reno and our United States government struggled over the term genocide yet broadcasts continued to plead for intervention. News of internal conflict became as relevant as the German Holocaust and more problematic given the history of Rwanda -The United Nations and the genocide as told by Paul Rusesabagina is riveting and worth reading before analyzing the movie .SAHNBCT

  • Christine Fay
    2018-11-12 18:29

    This is the story of a Rwandan hotel manager who used his words to save 1,268 people from being slaughtered by machete during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The Tutsis were being persecuted by the Hutu tribe for past perceived injustices. People were ordered via radio to “cut down the tall trees” which meant to kill their Tutsi neighbors. Paul is just an ordinary man who did what any man with any sort of political connections would do in order to save as many people as he could. Instead of using his words as weapons of death, he saw that even the most evil man still had some good in him, and he appealed to this part of the enemy in order to save many lives; his words became veritable tools of life.

  • Feisty Harriet
    2018-10-17 19:06

    Rusesabagina is most familiar as the hotelier who housed 1,200 Tutsi refugees in his Rwandan hotel during the genocide of 1994. Part autobiography of his early life, part war-time history of his country, part the basis of the movie Hotel Rwanda, this book is an interesting and heartbreaking mix. I usually read thru my lunch hour, but had to stop because I couldn't eat after reading about the horrors and brutality of regular people slaughtering their neighbors, their friends, even their own families. This is a very first-person account, one man's experience in hell, and I think that, despite the Hollywood success of the film, you need to remember that while reading this memoir.

  • Connie
    2018-10-16 18:15

    Remember the movie "Hotel Rwanda"? Well, this autobiography is by the hotel manager who managed to protect over 1200 people during that country's 1994 genocide. It pays a tribute to the man's father, a wise elder in his village who taught his son to be fair and honest and to work things out through the use of words when at all possible. How the author kept his cool in the midst of total insanity is admirable. His comments at the end of the book are insightful.

  • Lauren Morris
    2018-10-18 20:11

    I could not put this one down! Rusesabagina does an amazing job at re-telling his role during the Rwandan Genocide. His story is vivid and filled with background knowledge on the country of Rwanda and why it is so hard for Rwanda to escape it's history of war and bloodshed. I found myself folding pages and making notes for how I will use this in class. Definitely want to have the students read excerpts from the book when we study this in class.

  • Hannah
    2018-11-16 01:21

    This book is probably the most important book I've read this year. While some of the timing confused me, it was overall very well-written. It went into great detail in a very distinct perspective.

  • Cherie
    2018-11-04 20:26

    B+ Very interesting and fills out aspects of the movie Hotel Rwanda that aren't dealt with enough; the writing at times is amateurish but still, a good read.