The Rwanda Crisis, 1959-1994

History of a Genocide

May 1998 9781850653721 424pp


In the spring of 1994, the tiny African nation of Rwanda exploded onto the international media stage as internal strife reached genocidal proportions. But the horror that unfolded before our eyes had been building for years before it captured the attention of the world.

Journalist and Africa scholar Gérard Prunier offers an up-to-date historical perspective that Western readers need in order to fathom how the brutal massacres of 800,000 Rwandese came to pass. With a new chapter bringing its analysis up to the present, The Rwanda Crisis probes how the genocidal events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic — a plan that served central political and economic interests — rather than a result of primordial tribal hatreds, a notion often invoked by the media to dramatize the fighting.



‘Prunier’s elucidation of [Rwanda’s history] seems to me to be beyond praise. He has reconstructed the entire process by which a thorough modern genocide was planned. He has read all the documents. He has interviewed both perpetrators and survivors. He has anatomized the cold process of mass murder in both theory and practice.’ — Christopher Hitchens, Washington Post

‘The most thorough treatment of the background to the massacres. … [Prunier] presents his balanced and painstaking research with clarity and skill, and he shows how the ideological, political, and economic components of Rwanda’s human time bomb slowly assembled. . . A former consultant to the Mitterrand government, Prunier is particularly well informed on the shameful role of the French in helping create the conditions that led to the 1994 explosion.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘Gérard Prunier’s new history of the Rwandan genocide casts this sad moment into the black and white relief of print and commits to memory the struggle of those Rwandans who fell victim to the atrocities. … His book is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives, and an important contribution to the work of understanding the complexities of modern conflict.’ — Boston Book Review

‘Prunier speaks from the unique perspective of a knowledgeable but critical insider who is familiar with both the French establishment and the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In a lively and engaging voice, he offers the reader information unlikely to be found elsewhere.’ — Alison Des Forges, consultant, Human Rights Watch / Africa


Gérard Prunier is a renowned historian of contemporary Africa, author of, inter alia, the acclaimed The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide and of The Country That Does Not Exist: A History of Somaliland, both published by Hurst.  

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