Reading Up

Ruth Gonzales, a reader of this blog, recently contacted me with a great idea about recommended books for people interested in learning more Darfur, Rwanda, and the history of genocide. She also very generously sent a list of recommended books to me, which I have been hoping to compile for some time but of course never got around to. So keep an eye out on the recommended reading list in the sidebar as I add many new books to check out. And big shout out to Ruth for all the work and energy on this!

Of the books on there, many of them I personally have not yet read. I have mentioned Not on Our Watch before, the quintessential advocate's guide to Darfur complete with suggestions, tools, and calls to action. For the avid scholar, anything by Alex de Waal is recommended. He is THE recognized expert on Darfur and Sudan, although he raises some interesting questions about the advocacy movement, particularly celebrity activism. For a history of genocides, Samantha Power's A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide is a must-read, although personally sometimes the style of writing is too journalistic for me - ie. policy-makers are damned if they do, damned it they don't. However, it is definitely the best compiled history of genocides I have encountered yet.

In terms of gut-wrenching, emotive writing, I would point to either Dallaire or Philip Gourevitch's accounts of Rwanda. The Philip Gourevitch book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, sparked my interest in human rights and preventing mass atrocities. It is really well-written, mixing anecdotes, interviews, and well-researched histories of the conflict and country. Highly recommended.

I would love to hear everyone else's thoughts on recommended reading. Please send me an email with suggestions and ideas. And thanks to Ruth once again!

UPDATE: Check out the Comments section for some more good recommendations!



yoni said...

Great post!

I would like to second the recommendation of Samantha Powers "A problem from hell".

A number of the ideas she discusses in her book are at the core of what Stand does. Stand, and our partners were founded because of the need for a permanent anti-genocide constituency. We are getting at the root causes of genocide, while humanitarian organizations are hard at work soothing the symptoms of genocide.

While we were late to the game when it comes to Darfur/Sudan, we will stick around not only until the threat of genocide to civilians in Sudan is removed - we are here for the long haul so we can mobilize Canadians to act against genocide in the early stages.

For example, I am quite proud of the work a number of our Stand UBC members have been doing to raise awareness about the horrors of Eastern Congo. More than a decade after Rwanda the effects of genocide have persisted, with mass atrocities still being carried against targeted groups in Congo.


Bobbie said...

Some other good titles if your looking for memoir or personal account type stories are: What is the What by Dave Eggers, Darfur Diaries: Short Stories of Survival from Jen Marlowe and God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau.


Ian said...

I totally forgot about What is the What! I loved that book (in the way someone can love a book that is deeply disturbing and depressing...). I especially liked the way that it highlighted the problems refugees face even when they get to somewhere like the US or Canada, an issue that many of us forget about. Thanks Bobbie!

Thank you, Yoni, also for emphasizing our mission once again - not only to stop crimes that are happening right now, but also to prevent the next genocide wherever it may occur.

Ruth said...

Thanks Ian :-) "A Problem from Hell" is a fantastic book about how the U.S. has responded to genocide during the past century. Another one I read was "Tears of the Desert" by Halima Bashir, who lost family members to the genocide. And of course who can forget, "Shake Hands with the Devil" which is a must read for anyone interested in what happened in Rwanda.