Shake Hands with the Devil

Roméo Dallaire won the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction for this account of witnessing the 1993 genocide in Rwanda.

Roméo Dallaire

When Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN intervention in Rwanda in 1993, he thought he was heading off on a modest and straightforward peacekeeping mission. Thirteen months later he flew home from Africa, broken, disillusioned and suicidal, having witnessed the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in only a hundred days. In Shake Hands with the Devil, he takes the reader with him on a return voyage into the hell of Rwanda, vividly recreating the events the international community turned its back on. This book is an unsparing eyewitness account of the failure by humanity to stop the genocide, despite timely warnings. (From Random House Canada)

Shake Hands with the Devil won the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

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From the book

It was an absolutely magnificent day in May 1994. The blue sky was cloudless, and there was a whiff of breeze stirring the trees. It was hard to believe that in the past weeks an unimaginable evil had turned Rwanda's gentle green valleys and mist-capped hills into a stinking nightmare of rotting corpses. A nightmare that, as commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, I could not help but feel deeply responsible for.

In relative terms, that day had been a good one. Under the protection of a limited and fragile ceasefire, my troops had successfully escorted about two hundred civilians — a few of the thousands who had sought refuge in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda — through many government and militia-manned checkpoints to reach safety behind the Rwandensese Patriotic Front (RPF) lines. We were seven weeks into the genocide, and the RPF, the disciplined rebel army (composed largely of the sons of Rwandan refugees that lived over in the border camps in Uganda since being forced out of their homeland at independence), was making a curved sweep toward Kigali from the north, adding civil war to the chaos and butchery in the country.

From Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire ©2003. Published by Random House Canada.

Author interviews

Interview: Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire (Ret.'d)

14 years ago
Duration 6:32
Gillian Findlay interviews Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire (Ret.'d).

More about this book