Philip Gourevitch's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Philip Gourevitch recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Philip Gourevitch's favorite book recommendations of all time.


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Recommended by Philip Gourevitch, and 1 others.

Philip GourevitchOne of the books that I find most interesting – although only partly about Rwanda – is a book by John Hanning Speke, called The Discovery of the Source of the Nile. He was a 19th-century, Royal Geographical Society-sponsored explorer of Central Africa. Largely in direct competition with Richard Burton, he was vying for the big European explorer prize of discovering the source of the Nile. And... (Source)

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When genocidal violence gripped Rwanda in 1994, the international community recoiled, hastily withdrawing its peacekeepers. Late that year, in an effort to redeem itself, the United Nations Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to seek accountability for some of the worst atrocities since World War II: the genocide suffered by the Tutsi and crimes against humanity suffered by the Hutu. But faced with competing claims, the prosecution focused exclusively on the crimes of Hutu extremists. No charges would be brought against the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic... more
Recommended by Philip Gourevitch, and 1 others.

Philip GourevitchYes, there’s a terrific book by, again, a French writer, named Thierry Cruvellier, and it’s called Le Tribunal des Vaincus – The Court of the Defeated. And it is the only serious, and by far the best, account of the workings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Arusha, Tanzania – which followed the model of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The... (Source)

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Recommended by Philip Gourevitch, and 1 others.

Philip GourevitchYes, there’s an organisation called African Rights that I admire, run by a woman called Rakiya Omar. She is Somalian by background and she had worked for Human Rights Watch and had had a falling out with them about their policy on the American operations in Somalia – which of course just preceded the Rwandan genocide. And she started her own organisation with Alex de Waal, who is perhaps better... (Source)

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Life Laid Bare

The Survivors in Rwanda Speak

To make the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda is a painful task that we have no right to shirk-it is part of being a moral adult."
-Susan Sontag

In the late 1990s, French author and journalist Jean Hatzfeld made several journeys into the hilly, marshy region of the Bugesera, one of the areas most devastated by the Rwandan genocide of April 1994, where an average of five out of six Tutsis were hacked to death with machete and spear by their Hutu neighbors and militiamen. In the villages of Nyamata and N'tarama, Hatzfeld interviewed fourteen survivors of the genocide,...
Recommended by Philip Gourevitch, and 1 others.

Philip GourevitchOne of the things that writing about Rwanda doesn’t offer you – although writing about many other fascinating places does – is a substantial literature by the people you’re writing about. There just aren’t many books by Rwandans that are readily accessible to an outsider. There is a Kinyarwandan (Kinyarwanda is the language) oral tradition, there’s a lot of poetry and in the last century more and... (Source)

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A classic of literary nonfiction, My Traitor's Heart has been acclaimed as a masterpiece by readers around the world. Rian Malan is an Afrikaner, scion of a centuries-old clan and relative of the architect of apartheid, who fled South Africa after coming face-to-face with the atrocities and terrors of an undeclared civil war between the races. This book is the searing account of his return after eight years of uneasy exile. Armed with new insight and clarity, Malan explores apartheid's legacy of hatred and suffering, bearing witness to the extensive physical and emotional damage it has caused... more

Philip GourevitchIt goes deep, deep, deep into individual lives, which I increasingly have come to believe is the only way that we can understand these large, political shapes, particularly in stories that are foreign to us. (Source)

Murtaza Mohammad HussainThis is an amazing book I’d never heard of. I feel it should be read by all Americans but even more so people from countries like Israel that are governed according to a system of racial caste (Source)

Kevin BloomRian was commissioned by Random House to go and write the story of the history of his clan, but he realised 100 pages in that the story was actually a memoir and it was about his struggle. (Source)

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