9780670037520

AN Ordinary Man An Autobiography

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780670037520

  • ISBN10:

    0670037524

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-04-06
  • Publisher: Viking Adult

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Summary

The riveting life story of Paul Rusesabagina—the man whose heroism inspired the film Hotel Rwanda As his country was being torn apart by violence during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina—the Oskar Schindler of Africa”—refused to bow to the madness that surrounded him. Confronting killers with a combination of diplomacy, flattery, and deception, he offered shelter to more than twelve thousand members of the Tutsi clan and Hutu moderates, while homicidal mobs raged outside with machetes.An Ordinary Manexplores what the Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwandacould 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 Manis sure to become a classic of tolerance literature, joining such books as Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’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.

Author Biography

Paul Rusesabagina was the first Rwandan manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, a European-owned luxury hotel in Rwanda. A recipient of the National Civil Rights Museum-'s 2005 Freedom Award, he lives in Brussels, Belgium.
Tom Zoellner has worked as a contributing editor for Men-'s Health magazine and as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. His book The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds and Desire will be published in the summer of 2006.

Excerpts

Introduction My name is Paul Rusesabagina. I am a hotel manager. In April 1994, when a wave of mass murder broke out in my country, I was able to hide 1,268 people inside the hotel where I worked.When the militia and the Army came with orders to kill my guests, I took them into my office, treated them like friends, offered them beer and cognac, and then persuaded them to neglect their task that day. And when they came back, I poured more drinks and kept telling them they should leave in peace once again. It went on like this for seventy-six days. I was not particularly eloquent in these conversations. They were no different from the words I would have used in saner times to order a shipment of pillowcases, for example, or tell the shuttle van driver to pick up a guest at the airport. I still donit understand why those men in the militias didnit just put a bullet in my head and execute every last person in the rooms upstairs but they didnit. None of the refugees in my hotel were killed. Nobody was beaten. Nobody was taken away and made to disappear. People were being hacked to death with machetes all over Rwanda, but that five-story building became a refuge for anyone who could make it to our doors. The hotel could offer only an illusion of safety, but for whatever reason, the illusion prevailed and I survived to tell the story, along with those I sheltered. There was nothing particularly heroic about it. My only pride in the matter is that I stayed at my post and continued to do my job as manager when all other aspects of decent life vanished. I kept the Hotel Mille Collines open, even as the nation descended into chaos and eight hundred thousand people were butchered by their friends, neighbors, and countrymen. It happened because of racial hatred. Most of the people hiding in my hotel were Tutsis, descendants of what had once been the ruling class of Rwanda. The people who wanted to kill them were mostly Hutus, who were traditionally farmers. The usual stereotype is that Tutsis are tall and thin with delicate noses, and Hutus are short and stocky with wider noses, but most people in Rwanda fit neither description. This divide is mostly artificial, a leftover from history, but people take it very seriously, and the two groups have been living uneasily alongside each other for more than five hundred years. You might say the divide also lives inside me. I am the son of a Hutu farmer and his Tutsi wife. My family cared not the least bit about this when I was growing up, but since bloodlines are passed through the father in Rwanda, I am technically a Hutu. I married a Tutsi woman, whom I love with a fierce passion, and we had a child of mixed descent together. This type of blended family is typical in Rwanda, even with our long history of racial prejudice. Very often we canit tell each other apart just by looking at one another. But the difference between Hutu and Tutsi means everything in Rwanda. In the late spring and early summer of 1994 it meant the difference between life and death. Between April 6, when the plane of President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down with a missile, and July 4, when the Tutsi rebel army captured the capital of Kigali, approximately eight hundred thousand Rwandans were slaughtered. This is a number that cannot be grasped with the rational mind. It is like tryingoall at onceoto understand that the earth is surrounded by billions of balls of gas just like our sun across a vast blackness. You cannot understand the magnitude. Just try! Eight hundred thousand lives snuffed out in one hundred days. Thatis eight thousand lives a day. More than five lives per minute. Each one of those lives was like a little world in itself. Some person who laughed and cried and ate and thought and felt and hurt just like any other person, just like you and me. A motheris child, every one irreplaceable. And the way they died...I canit bear to think about i

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