ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 39 and 40

39. God Sleeps in Rwanda, by Joseph Sebarenzi. A very moving and powerful book. Sebarenzi had been sent to the Congo to further his education, and thus his life was spared during the 1994 Rwandan genocide- but his parents and most of his immediate family were slaughtered. Later he became the speaker of Rwandan's parliament (by his own admission because of his youth and lack of political experience; those in power hoped to manipulate him,) but once again had to flee his country with his family after he ran afoul of the country's vice president (later president) Kagame. Turned out he wasn't so easy to manipulate and wasn't willing to be just a sycophant for those in power. It's an interesting look inside of Rwanda but it's a more fascinating look at Sebarenzi, as he goes from (understandably) grief-stricken and bitter to someone who moves past the incredible atrocities and moves to the forefront in trying to restore peace in his country. He has an incredibly potent message about the importance of forgiveness and moving on. It's a sad story, too, though, because it shows how fragile a democracy can be, with the wrong people in power.

40. Guest of Honor, by Deborah Davis. Davis looks at a piece of history that most people probably don't know about. One fateful evening, Theodore Roosevelt, the new president of the United States, invited Booker T. Washington to dinner with his family and a couple of others. Now, to the modern reader, this might not seem to be a big deal. After all, Roosevelt was a young, dynamic president brimming with ideas, inviting one of his advisers, Washington, who was among the most influential African Americans of his day and the founder of the Tuskegee Institute. No big deal, right? But this is the early 1900s, what should have been an innocuous invitation for a business dinner turned into a scandal that impacted both men. There were many who thought the dinner was a great step in positive racial relations. There were, however, a lot of loud critics -- both black and white -- of both men who thought the invitation breached a social line that should never have been crossed. The dinner spawned nasty political cartoons and songs, political maneuverings and gossip for several years afterwards. The dinner itself isn't covered until the final few chapters, with much of the book leading up to the event, including information on each man's background, the political climate and well-known contemporaries of the two men. History buffs should definitely add this one to their to-read list. I might have to check out Davis's other books as well.
Tags: history, non-fiction

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