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Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak…

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (2003)

by Jean Hatzfeld

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This book is simply astonishing. ( )
  chive | Jun 7, 2013 |
A story so horrific I’m almost sorry to have read the book. At the same time a story so gut-wrenching I believe everyone needs to read it. In just 100 days in 1994 800,000-1,000,000 Tutsis were killed in the Republic of Rwanda. These people were mostly killed by their machete wielding Hutu neighbors.”What we do goes beyond human imagination,” reports one of the murderers. Jean Hatzfeld, a Belgian reporter, interviewed 10 of the killers. These men though fairly open in their responses, were in prison at the time they were interviewed. Hatzfeld's Rwandan translator was a Tutsi. Both of these factors may have affected their responses. This book has a map of Rwanda and a four page timeline but no index. There is a chapter at the end of the book with a half page biography of each of the interviewees. I wish there were more information about the actual interviews. This should not be the first book you read about the tragedy in Rwanda.
Machete Season shows in terrifying detail how ordinary people can go along with mob brutality. Faced with the same mentality would one have the strength to actively fight the violence or at the least resist being swept up in it? This book and “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families”, (Gourevitch, P. 1998) would be a great start for a dialogue with high school or college students about violence and personal responsibility. ( )
1 vote rwilliamson | Mar 12, 2012 |
Writer Philip Gourevitch has chosen to discuss Jean Hatzfeld’s Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak  on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Rwanda, saying that:

“…Hatzfeld wound up going back to Rwanda and the whole group of killers who had been pursuing the survivors he’d been writing about in his first book were all in one prison nearby. And he arranged to meet with them on a regular basis, individually and collectively, to hear their stories. And it’s the most direct (I guess you could say honest) account, by people who took part in the genocide, of the excitement and thrill of the hunt and the kill that motivated a lot of them…”

The full interview is available here: http://five-books.com/interviews/philip-gourevitch ( )
  FiveBooks | Mar 16, 2010 |
Jean Hatzfeld is a French journalist who spent quite a bit of time in Rwanda, interviewing first the victims of the horrendous genocide there for his book Life Laid Bare, then, for this book, some of their neighbors, a group of nine friends from the same area who grew up together, drank, played and worked together, killed together and now are in prison together. Between April 11 and May 14, 1994, all but 9,000 of 59,000 Tutsis were murdered in the district of Nyama, mostly by being chopped up, quickly or slowly by men like these with machetes. Hatzfeld elicits quite a lot of information from these men as to why and how they did what they did and how they felt about it afterward. Getting past their lies was his first challenge as a reporter; trying to understand their complete self-centeredness was the last. Several things contributed to these men and almost all other Tutu men in Rwanda being able to kill as they did, cruelly, unmercifully, relentlessly for 100 days, singing as they marched off each morning to do their grisley work. One was that anyone showing the slightest mercy to a Tutsi was usually killed by a neighbor or even relative Hutu. Another was that they enjoyed the spoils of those they slaughtered -- feasting on their cattle each night, taking their furniture, land, houses, clothes, money, cooking pots, everything. The ground had been prepared for these atrocities by relentless hate-filled radio "talk shows," by the way. And they saw the foreigners, the West, withdraw, showing indifference to the fate of the Tutsis. Nor did any church leaders speak out; instead, many priests and pastors joined in the killing. Also they fully expected to kill every single Tutsi, and expected no witness left, no punishment, only rewards, for what they were doing. The killers actually found satisfaction in cutting Tutsi's (especially the women) "down to size" -- quite literally, chopping off their legs and arms, which had been considered attractively long limbed, extending their suffering. The opening massacres in the Rwandan genocide in this region in April, 1994, took place in two churches, each of which sheltered 5,000 Tutsis, mostly women and children. In this country where 70% are Christian, the killers chopped up women and children, again literally, at the foot of the cross. In the afternoon, they poured gasoline on the surviving children and set them aflame. After that, it was off to the hills and swamps to try to kill every Tutsi in the country. This book is a troubling, powerful testimony to the horrible truths of how ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary evil. ( )
1 vote MarthaHuntley | Sep 26, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Hatzfeldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Achilles, GretchenDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coverdale, LindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SusanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sontag, SusanPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312425031, Paperback)

During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated. As Susan Sontag wrote in the preface, Machete Season is a document that "everyone should read . . . [because making] the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda . . . is part of being a moral adult."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:52 -0400)

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"The genocidal massacre of almost a million people in Rwanda more than a decade ago may be fading into history, but the killers are still with us, and so is the moral problem of trying to understand how such terrible crimes could have been committed. Jean Hatzfeld's account of conversations he had with some of the killers, now convicted and in jail - men who rampaged across the fields, singing as they went, hacking to death 50,000 out of 59,000 of their neighbors - offers extraordinary insights into the nature of this collective crime. But, as Hatzfeld understands, the killers' words raise as many questions as they answer." "The ten men Hatzfeld interviewed had been friends from childhood who had stayed together during their genocidal "job, " as they called it, and then in their flight to exile in Congo, during their subsequent capture and trials, and now in prison. They freely spoke to Hatzfeld about what life had been like during those terrible weeks in the spring of 1994, and what they thought about what they had done." "There has never been a testimony like this. "The offenders know more than the basic facts, " one acknowledges. "They have secrets in their souls." Another simply says, "Killing was less wearisome than farming." "A man is like an animal: you give him a whack on the head or neck, and down he goes, " says another. Why where they willing to talk? Did they distinguish truth from self-defensive evasion about this gruesome killing spree? Did they seek reconciliation, forgiveness, understanding? Were they remorseless, or did they suffer the nightmares of the damned?" "Hatzfeld's report on this horrific testimony is humane and wise, and he relates the unprecedented material he obtained from the genocidaires to what we know of other war crimes and genocidal episodes. It has sometimes been suggested that only depraved and monstrous men could perpetrate such crimes, but it may be, Hatzfeld suggests, that these terrible actions are within the realm of ordinary human conduct."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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