Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace
By Susan Thomson
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (April 24, 2018)
A sobering study of the troubled African nation, both pre- and post-genocide, and its uncertain future. The brutal civil war between Hutu and Tutsi factions in Rwanda ended in 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power and embarked on an ambitious social, political, and economic project to remake the devastated central-east African nation. Susan Thomson, who witnessed the hostilities firsthand, has written a provocative modern history of the country, its rulers, and its people, covering the years prior to, during, and following the genocidal conflict. Thomson’s hard-hitting analysis explores the key political events that led to the ascendance of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and its leader, President Paul Kagame. This important and controversial study examines the country’s transition from war to reconciliation from the perspective of ordinary Rwandan citizens, Tutsi and Hutu alike, and raises serious questions about the stability of the current peace, the methods and motivations of the ruling regime and its troubling ties to the past, and the likelihood of a genocide-free future.
“This is the best guide to an understanding of a society torn to bits by genocide. Thomson cuts through the veil of prejudice and ignorance surrounding one of the continent’s most controversial dictatorships in a way no other book does. Truly excellent.”
—René Lemarchand, University of Florida
“An indispensable guide to the complex politics in Rwanda since the genocide of 1994. Based on years of research and a longstanding interest in the experiences of ordinary Rwandans, this accessible and nuanced study challenges many assumptions on the role of the state in the East African country.”
—Catharine Newbury, author of The Cohesion of Oppression
“A powerful and important reexamination of the history of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath under Paul Kagame. This is a book that challenges much of the received knowledge about Rwanda's recovery from one of the worst bouts of atrocity in the 20th Century, and deserves reading by anyone who wishes to understand this country's many modern traumas.”
—Howard W. French, author of A Continent for the Taking
“A vital contribution towards understanding the link between Rwanda's 1994 genocide and its current precarious peace."
—Anjan Sundaram, author of Bad News
Amazon Reader Review
Insightful, nuanced overview of Rwanda
I first came across Susan Thomson's work through her previous book Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Post-genocide Rwanda. As someone who spent a semester studying abroad in Rwanda, I was impressed by Thomson's deep respect for rural Rwandans, her knowledge of Kinyarwanda, and her deviation from a state-sanctioned canon that views reconciliation and the current president as the pinnacles of success. In this new title, Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace, Thomson provides a nuanced, insightful overview of precolonial history, the 1994 genocide, and the present stakeholders in the country. The book refreshed my memory on a lot of history leading up to the genocide, affirmed some of my biggest fears about the country, and clarified information I had only guessed was happening. Incredibly grateful for this book.