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Justice on the Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes and a Nation's Quest for Redemption

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The 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were massacred in just 100 days, was an unparalleled modern-day slaughter. How does a nation pick up the pieces after the killing has stopped? In a gripping narrative that examines the power of the press and sheds light on how the media turned tens of thousands of ordinary Rwandans into murderers The 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were massacred in just 100 days, was an unparalleled modern-day slaughter. How does a nation pick up the pieces after the killing has stopped? In a gripping narrative that examines the power of the press and sheds light on how the media turned tens of thousands of ordinary Rwandans into murderers, award-winning author and journalist Dina Temple-Raston traces the rise and fall of three media executives -- Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and Hassan Ngeze. From crime to trial to verdict, Temple-Raston explores the many avenues of justice Rwanda pursued in the decade after the killing. Focusing on the media trial at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, she then drops down to the level of the hills, where ordinary Rwandans seek justice and retribution, and examines whether politics in the East African nation has set the stage for renewed violence. In the months leading up to the killing, two local media outlets, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and the tabloid newspaper Kangura, warned that a bloody confrontation was brewing. No one would be spared, they said. Observers said later that fearmongering from RTLM and Kangura played a key role in igniting the genocide, so much so that the three men behind the media outlets became the first journalists since Nuremberg to be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity. Drawing on extensive interviews with key players, Dina Temple-Raston brings to life a cast of remarkable characters: the egotistical newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze; hate radio cofounders, the intellectual Ferdinand Nahimana andthe defiant legal scholar Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza; an American-led prosecution team wary of a guilty verdict that might bring a broadly written judgment muzzling the press the world over; the bombastic American defense attorney John Floyd; heroic Damien Nzabakira, who risked his life to drive forty orphans to safety only to spend eight years in prison accused of their murder; and Bonaventure Ubalijoro, a Rwandan diplomat and politician who believed in miracles. An extraordinary feat of reporting and narrative, "Justice on the Grass" reveals a Rwanda few have seen. A searing and compassionate book, "Justice on the Grass" illustrates how, more than a decade later, a country and its people are still struggling to heal, to forgive, and to make sense of something that defies credibility and humanity.


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The 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were massacred in just 100 days, was an unparalleled modern-day slaughter. How does a nation pick up the pieces after the killing has stopped? In a gripping narrative that examines the power of the press and sheds light on how the media turned tens of thousands of ordinary Rwandans into murderers The 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were massacred in just 100 days, was an unparalleled modern-day slaughter. How does a nation pick up the pieces after the killing has stopped? In a gripping narrative that examines the power of the press and sheds light on how the media turned tens of thousands of ordinary Rwandans into murderers, award-winning author and journalist Dina Temple-Raston traces the rise and fall of three media executives -- Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and Hassan Ngeze. From crime to trial to verdict, Temple-Raston explores the many avenues of justice Rwanda pursued in the decade after the killing. Focusing on the media trial at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, she then drops down to the level of the hills, where ordinary Rwandans seek justice and retribution, and examines whether politics in the East African nation has set the stage for renewed violence. In the months leading up to the killing, two local media outlets, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and the tabloid newspaper Kangura, warned that a bloody confrontation was brewing. No one would be spared, they said. Observers said later that fearmongering from RTLM and Kangura played a key role in igniting the genocide, so much so that the three men behind the media outlets became the first journalists since Nuremberg to be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity. Drawing on extensive interviews with key players, Dina Temple-Raston brings to life a cast of remarkable characters: the egotistical newspaper editor Hassan Ngeze; hate radio cofounders, the intellectual Ferdinand Nahimana andthe defiant legal scholar Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza; an American-led prosecution team wary of a guilty verdict that might bring a broadly written judgment muzzling the press the world over; the bombastic American defense attorney John Floyd; heroic Damien Nzabakira, who risked his life to drive forty orphans to safety only to spend eight years in prison accused of their murder; and Bonaventure Ubalijoro, a Rwandan diplomat and politician who believed in miracles. An extraordinary feat of reporting and narrative, "Justice on the Grass" reveals a Rwanda few have seen. A searing and compassionate book, "Justice on the Grass" illustrates how, more than a decade later, a country and its people are still struggling to heal, to forgive, and to make sense of something that defies credibility and humanity.

30 review for Justice on the Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes and a Nation's Quest for Redemption

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Most interesting book I have read about the genocide. Explains the history in a way that makes sense to the lay person. Very interesting analysis of the importance of media and what it can do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Birtcher

    This is a great timeline of the events leading up to the Rwandan genocide in 1994. It explores the influence media had on the devastating events. It explores the mindset of the Hutus and the Tutsis giving an insight into the reasons behind their actions. This is the book that made me want to understand more about why people do the things they do. This book greatly influenced my decision to go into social work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Camille Baird

    I really enjoyed learning about this part of a sad and difficult history, as well as cultural aspects. it is a complex and difficult situation and the author handles the issue of genocide and hate well, bringing a journalistic, storytelling aspect that lets the information unfold on its own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This was quite an interesting book. It was interesting to learn about the role of the media in the Rwandan genocide and how the trials following began to set a precedent for future international court trials.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gwyneth

    Really interesting book about the media and the Rwanda genocide. Written in a very narrative style that was easy and engaging to read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Juniper

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda J Rogers

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Latiff

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan Lewisdko

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kaylyn Wilson

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arzoo Sy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  14. 5 out of 5

    Setarreh

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Means

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Mae

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Sabatelle

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Lister

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian Blonder

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim Ralston

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 5 out of 5

    Em

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kat

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