Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide

In This Review

Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide

By Linda Melvern
Verso, 2004
358 pp. $25.00
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The Rwandan genocide of the spring and summer of 1994 has spawned a rich and growing literature. This account, focused mostly on events on the ground, offers little new information about the international context and, unfortunately, covers only the first chapter of these grim events, ending with the July 1994 military victory of Paul Kagame and his Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front and the start of a chaotic exodus of hundreds of thousands of Hutus to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite these shortcomings, Melvern, a journalist who has written before about Rwanda and the UN, provides an authoritative account. Breaking new ground, she documents the extensive preparation for the genocide by extremists within the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana going back at least to 1991. When the genocide began, they had bought and distributed the equivalent of one machete for every three Hutu males and, with breathtaking cynicism, manipulated the media and state institutions to stoke anti-Tutsi passions to a fever pitch.