WARNING: This turned out to be very long. Go grab a cup of tea before you start reading it.
I read a lot of non-fiction but I usually read it because I don't know much (or anything) about the subject and therefore want to be educated about it. I learn from it and possibly form opinions based on it, but if I haven't already made up my mind, how can it change my mind? I decided, instead, to look at the non-fiction books which have had a great impact on my life.
Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Lt.-Gen (Ret.) The Honourable Roméo Dallaire.
Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis
I wrote about Shake Hands earlier in these questions as a book that was difficult to read, but for me it was also a book which was life changing. It also lead me to reading Race Against Time. I lumped these two together because they are books that impacted me in the same way.
Skip forward ten years to a rainy Friday night and my impulse purchase while waiting for the bus. I read that book and faint memories of hearing about Rwanda came back to me. I was struck with the simple question Dallaire asked, are some humans more important than others? The book moved me, pressing me to learn more about what had happened. I read more books, trolled the Internet and, eventually, decided I was strong enough to see the documentary Shake Hands with the Devil. While watching the film, they play an audio clip of Michael Enright interviewing Dallaire and as the clip played, I snapped back to being fourteen, sitting at the dinning room table with my mom and stepdad, listening to As It Happens. It was like a door opened and I remembered everything that I had heard back then. I remembered the pin, but this time I knew what genocide meant.
Stephen Lewis was interviewed for the documentary and I instantly liked him. He was honest, straight forward and truthful yet the strongest word he ever used was 'poppycock'. I decided I had to read his book and found a copy a few days later. The book begins with the observation "I have spent the last four years watching people die." Yet the book is incredibly hopeful and by the end, I felt there was a possible solution to the end of, or at least the stemming of the tide that is, HIV/AIDS.
[photo by Kara]