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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography

AN Ordinary Man: An Autobiography - Paul Rusesabagina, Tom Zoellner, Dominic Hoffman He may have been an ordinary man before being placed in an extraordinary situation. But he responded with extraordinary actions. He is no longer an ordinary man in my view. He's a living saint if there ever was one.

This is a story about the right man with the right abilities at a bad place at a horrible time. It is unlikely that any other person could have accomplished what he did at that time and place. He had the right combination of social intelligence and ability to read the personalities of others to save the lives of 1,268 people. In the process of doing this he had to bargain with obviously evil people who he didn't like or respect. But he had the self control to maintain a friendly face and the endurance to flatter and manipulate as needed. There were obviously many times during the 76 days when everyone in the hotel would have been killed but for his well timed actions.

The book is Paul Rusesabagina's memoir of his life. The book begins with him describing his youth and family he was born in. He then describes Rwanda's history. Then he follows his life as a young man and describes how he ended up being a hotel manager. This background offers an insight into why and how the Rwandan genocide occurred. But of course genocide can never make sense, but at least the book's history explains the events leading up to it.

This book gives me hope that good people can be found almost anywhere. Toward the end of the book he describes numerous brave cases where shelter was provided for the targets of the killers. Unfortunately, there are never enough good people when they're needed. It's interesting to note that Rwanda is the most heavily Christianized country in Africa. Some 90 percent of the people identify themselves as Christians. Yet all of this Christianity did not prevent neighbors hacking approximately 800,000 of their neighbors to death with machetees. This should place a touch of humility upon those of us who say that Christianity has a message of peace and justice. Paul Rusesabagina says in the book, "I felt that God left me on my own during the genocide. .... I share this yearning in my heart with other Rwandans, was God hiding from us during the killing?"