Machete Season

Machete Season

The Killers in Rwanda Speak : A Report

Book - 2005
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During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated. As Susan Sontag wrote in the preface, Machete Season is a document that "everyone should read . . . [because making] the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda . . . is part of being a moral adult."

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
ISBN: 9780312425036
Branch Call Number: 967.571043 Hat
Characteristics: xiv, 253 pages ; 22 cm


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Aug 20, 2018

"The first day, a messenger from the municipal judge went house to house summoning us to a meeting right away. There the judge announced that the reason for the meeting was the killing of every Tutsi without exception. It was simply said, and it was simple to understand."

Simply said, simply understood, and simple to carry out. For the next few weeks, Pancrace Hakizamungli and his Hutu friends and neighbors from the Nyamata district of Rwanda, sometimes assisted and encouraged by troops sent by the government but often on their own, methodically hunted down and slaughtered thousands of Tutsi men, women, and children who had, until recently, also been their neighbors. Most of the killings were carried out by machete, the tool that the killers were most comfortable with, the one they used in their everyday work, clearing land and butchering animals, proving equally handy for butchering people.

Machete Season is Jean Hatzfeld's second oral history of the Rwandan genocide - the first, Life Laid Bare, presented the experiences of the victims. The former is, as might be expected, even more horrific than the latter, both due to the inclusion of atrocities no victim survived to speak of and the insight into the minds of the genocidaires. For the perpetrators, the killing season, in retrospect, acquires the character of a holiday. Ordinary work and even church services were suspended - the men spent their days killing, the women looting, the children helping both, all living off the property of the victims. Indeed, as the Tutsis controlled most of the Rwandan cattle, the plundering Hutus feasted on a previously undreamt-of quantity of meat. Mass murder was not a distasteful task, but something they took pleasure in.

Nov 28, 2013

I do not like how Hatzfeld presented his study. It does not seem as if either he nor the interviewees were capable of understanding or analyzing the root causes of participation in the Rwandan genocide.

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