An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina

Published By: Viking Adult

Date of Publication: April 6 2006

Categories: Adult, biography, genocide, humanitarianism, non fiction.

Pages: 207

Summary (from goodreads.com): An Ordinary Man explores what the Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwanda could not: the inner life of the man who became one of the most prominent public faces of that terrible conflict. Rusesabagina tells for the first time the full story of his life-growing up as the son of a rural farmer, the child of a mixed marriage, his extraordinary career path which led him to become the first Rwandan manager of the Belgian-owned Hotel Milles Collines-all of which contributed to his heroic actions in the face of such horror. He will also bring the reader inside the hotel for those one hundred terrible days depicted in the film, relating the anguish of those who watched as their loved ones were hacked to pieces and the betrayal that he felt as a result of the UN’s refusal to help at this time of crisis.

Including never-before-reported details of the Rwandan genocide, An Ordinary Man is sure to become a classic of tolerance literature, joining such books as Thomas Keneally’sSchindler’s List, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Paul Rusesabagina’s autobiography is the story of one man who did not let fear get the better of him-a man who found within himself a vast reserve of courage and bravery, and showed the world how one “ordinary man” can become a hero.

Review: This was definitely a hard book to read, but it’s a book that should be read. Paul Rusesabagina writes about how he survived the Rwandan genocide and was able to protect almost 1300 people hiding in his hotel.

If you’ve seen Hotel Rwanda you know the jist of how things happened. I really enjoyed the details in the book though. There was a lot of history which helped to set up how a genocide could happen. It put things in context. It’s pretty shocking to think that friends and neighbors would kill each other, but with the history of colonialism and racism in Rwanda, it was easier to understand how it could have happened.

It’s amazing to think that Rusesabagina was able to keep 1300 people safe with just money, liquor, and the ability to talk. He never picked up a gun but he was able to fight against the genocide.

It’s shocking to think the international community could have cared less about a nearly a million people. The UN and the western world had more than enough information to stop the killing, but they decided not to. They let people be killed, traumatized, and pushed from their homes to become refugees.

All in all if you’re wanting a great non-fiction read, go with this book. If you’re looking for something else to read about the Rwandan genocide, I would definitely recommend Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire, the head of the UN mission in Rwanda.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I bought this book.

I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby

Published By: Polka Dot Press

Year of Publication: 2007

Categories: Non Fiction, Biography

Pages: 197

Summary (from goodreads.com): A fascinating true story of a young woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage.
In 1969, Ann-Marie Dornn’s parents did the unthinkable. They left a Hutterite colony near Portage La Prairie, Manitoba with seven children and little else, to start a new life. Overnight, the family was thrust into a society they did not understand and which knew litte of their unique culture. The transition was overwhelming.
Desperate to be accepted, ten year-old Ann-Marie is forced to deny her heritage in order to fit in with her peers. I Am Hutterite chronicles her quest to reinvent herself as she comes to terms with the painful circumstances that led her family to leave community life.

Review: About twenty pages into this book I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but by page 50 I was hooked and I had a hard time putting it down. I was drawn to this book because I like reading about things that are different from what I know or experience. I think the author has a unique viewpoint, having lived the Hutterite way of life and then living in the world as I know it.

I found reading about a culture that I knew nothing about so interesting. I live in a province that has a lot of Hutterites in it, I even lived and worked in towns were they were seen everyday, but I surprised myself with how much I didn’t know about them. I didn’t even realize it until I started reading this book.

I really enjoyed getting an inside look into colonies in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve never been to one, so I had no idea what they’re like. I’m sure they’ve changed a bit from the ones described in the book, but I still found it really interesting.

I had never really thought  about what it would be like to have one life and then leave, and try to fit in to the “outside world” that is so different from the one you’re used to. It sounds like a pretty scary thing to do, especially at ten years old. The closest thing that I would be able to compare it to in my life was the two moves that I went through when I was nine and  fourteen. I went through three different provinces in five years, and it was TOUGH. I can only imagine the change that Mary-Ann had to go through.

I loved the message this book gave me – that no matter what language we speak, what we wear, or our faith, in the end we’re all just people. It’s so easy to separate ourselves into “us” and “them”, when really, we’re more similar than we know.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.