An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography

by Paul Rusesabagina, Tom Zoellner | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0143038605 Global Overview for this book
Registered by HoserLauren of Burlington, Ontario Canada on 3/15/2007
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Thursday, March 15, 2007
I purchased this at Chapters soon after I heard it was released. I loved the movie Hotel Rwanda so I'm interested in learning more about Mr. Rusesabagina.

From Amazon (it's not an audiobook but this is what Amazon says):
For former hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, words are the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal. For good and for evil, as was the case in the spring of 1994 in Rwanda. Over 100 days, some 800,000 people were slaughtered, most hacked to death by machete. Rusesabagina—inspiration for the movie Hotel Rwanda—used his facility with words and persuasion to save 1,268 of his fellow countrymen, turning the Belgian luxury hotel under his charge into a sanctuary from madness. Through negotiation, favor, flattery and deception, Rusesabagina managed to keep his "guests" alive another day despite the homicidal gangs just beyond the fence and the world's failure to act. Narrator Hoffman delivers those words in a stirring audio performance. With a crisp African accent, Hoffman renders each sentence with heartfelt conviction and flat-out becomes Rusesabagina. The humble hotel manager not only illuminates the machinery behind the genocide but delves into Rwanda's complex and colorful cultural history as well as his own childhood, the son of a Hutu father and Tutsi mother. Hoffman successfully draws out the understated elegance of Rusesabagina's simple and straightforward prose, lending the story added vividness. This tale of good, evil and moral responsibility winds down with Rusesabagina visiting a church outside Kigali where thousands were massacred and where a multilingual sign-cloth now pledges, "Never Again." He once more stops to consider words, the ones he worries lack true conviction—like those at the church—as well as the ones with the power to heal. For the listener, the words of Paul Rusesabagina won't soon be forgotten.

Journal Entry 2 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Don't let the title fool you, Paul Rusesabagina is no Ordinary Man. The inspiration behind the movie Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina comes out with his autobiography to give you a richer view of his life, Rwanda, and what happened inside of the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines that saved the lives of over 1,200 Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide.
Rusesabagina grew up on the side of a hill - like all Rwandan children do since the Rwandan geography is formed of valleys and peaks - to a banana farmer. A modest upbringing, Rusesabagina dreamed of moving to the city. He quit his education of becoming a priest so he could do just that. Yet as Paul brings the reader closer and closer to what happened during the genocide, it is amazing how every step of Paul's life seemed to carve out his future so that he would be a saviour to the Tutsi's hiding in his hotel.
Paul believes that words can stop violence and he shows just how true that is in this story. Drawing on all of his past - including living in a farm, going through some of priest-school, and operating 2 hotels in the Kigali region - Paul somehow manages to save the imminent slaughter of the Tutsis that have found refuge in his hotel. How exactly this happened is unbelievable. There was nothing stopping the Hutu supporters from barging into the hotel and killing everyone inside. Yet somehow, through the grace of god (though Paul admits, he's lapsed in his religious ways due to the genocide, and who can blame him?), and Paul's quick wit, they all manage to survive.
Paul does not hold back in his disdain for those who never came to help. He is disgusted with the UN, and specifically Kofi Anann, who told the UN in Rwanda not to do anything. He is disgusted at how the USA would not call the acts a genocide so that they would not have to do anything about it.
And while he describes the genocide, it is with utmost respect for the dead. Without being graphic, Paul paints a picture that still makes your stomach turn simply due to the magnitude of the horror.
This is a story that everyone should read. Paul is a hero, or as he would like you to say it, he did his job, but he did it damn well. Can Paul's story teach us to never again let humanity commit these horrible acts? Probably not. But it can make each of us slightly more aware of what is going on in the world.

First to Ace, then to msjoanna

Journal Entry 3 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, March 20, 2007
This book is with me now

Journal Entry 4 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Sunday, April 01, 2007
What an incredible book!!!! I don't think I have ever rated a book a 10. Rusesagabina has painted a picture that is moving and deeply profound. One can almost feel the hand of destiny pushing Paul to his fate. He single handedly saved many lives during the Rawanda genocide. Did he hold them back with guns? No just words. Unbelieveable!!. He kept a binder full of favours owed and cashed every single last one of them to save his fellow countrymen. Brave and heroic!!. The last chapter was a very poignant one for me as Rusesagabina expounds on African problems and his beliefs and morals. His disdain for the UN and the US are made very clear. Also his belief that since justice has been slow or non-existant there could very well be another genocide. Paul believes there are hard and soft spots in even the most evil of men. He was able to 'have drinks' with his worst enemy . "The individual's most potent weapon is a stubborn belief in the triumph of common decency"

Journal Entry 5 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Sunday, April 15, 2007
Sent off today to MsJoanna! Enjoy!!!

Journal Entry 6 by msjoanna from Columbia, Missouri USA on Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I'm looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the fun swap.

Journal Entry 7 by msjoanna from Columbia, Missouri USA on Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I've just borrowed the audio of this since it got such great reviews on the AudioFile listed above. So I'm sending along the hard copy to zzz, who won it in the African Swap. I'll be back in a week or two with comments after I finish listening to it.
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Added March 27, 2008:
First, listening to this book on audio was extremely powerful. So much so that I actually had to stop the CD, stop the car, then turn it back on to listen to because it was so moving and was making it hard for me to concentrate on driving. If you have the chance to hear the audio version, I highly recommend it -- the reader does a terrific job. The author manages to use direct language to tell his amazing story of being the manager of a hotel in Rwanda during the genocide. He managed to turn the hotel into a refugee base and, amazingly, held off the militia and other killers for 76 days, saving the lives of more than 1000 people.

The book provides an extremely harsh view of the world's failure, and particularly the failure of the United States and the United Nations, to intervene in the early days of the genocide to prevent the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The author also tells the story of both his negotiations with specific individuals and the story of what happened to others that he knew.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Though the subject matter is disturbing, it's an important piece of world history.

Journal Entry 8 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Monday, March 17, 2008
Book is here. I'm looking forward to read it (I liked "Hotel Rwanda" as well).
I was little confused when I saw note that begins with "Hey Joanna" but your last JE is explaining the reason. LOL
Oh since it's "the only book Lauren gave 10 stars last year" (plus 10 stars from Ace)I don't have doubts it's great. Sorry I peeked at the note *whistle*

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