This gripping novel tells the stories of those who managed to survived the Rwandan Genocide. Gourevitch travels to Rwanda and interviews the survivors of the Hutu Government lead massacre of the Tutsi people. The first couple chapters describes where and the scale of the genocide. He describes how once he walked through a field and he heard the crunching of bones from the remains of the people who were slaughtered there a year before. The field led to a church where the Tutsis were promised to be safe. However, this was a lie and all the people who remained in eh church faced torture, rape, and eventual death. The bodies still laid out, to serve as a memorial and gruesome reminder of the atrocities that were committed not a year earlier.
The book also describes the origins of the tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis. Many theories exist, but all play a part I think. There is the Hammic myth where it tells the story of Noah and his sons. Two of his sons, the first white men, stop there brother Ham, the original black man, from embarrassing their father Noah. As punishment for trying to do that, Noah curses Ham to be never as equal as his brothers. This later is a factor when European Colonists come in and use it to their advantage to keep the two in contrast with one another. Tutsis had more the European features with lighter skin, slender, small nose. The Hutus were the stereotypical African with broad shoulders, dark skin, and a large nose. These features would help them be separated from the superior to the inferior. These and many other factors would help lead to the slaughter of almost 1 million people in the 1990s.