Monday, August 10, 2009

Shake Hands With the Devil

...or Why I read books that I don't really like.

SHWTD is a perfect example of why I always slog on, slog on with a book I'm not truly enjoying. I have been reading this book for...well...for longer than I like to admit. I noticed that the book mark I was using in it was from two jobs ago. yipes.

To be fair, I always struggle with non-fiction. I read, primarily, for entertainment. But I get these pangs of conscience sometimes where I feel like I should know more about the world.

If you're not familiar, SHWTD is the story of the 1994 UN peacekeeping mission in Rawanda. The mission leader dude (that's his official military title) was a Canadian General (actually a Lieutenant General - what is the difference??).

The problem with the book is that Romeo Dallaire is a military guy and not a writer. So huge sections of the book are just facts about where he went and who he talked to and who tried to kill him.

In the end though, I found that I rather enjoyed that style. He wasn't trying to tug my heartstrings or manipulate my emotions. Dude just tells it like it is. I came away with an understanding of how a peacekeeping mission works and what, in fact, those peacekeepers DO.

sidebar: I often struggle with understanding what it is people DO. "Well, I'm the regional VP for Information Technologies." "Yes, so what do you dooooo?" "Well I supervise the regional implementation of information and technologies." "Uh-huh, uh-huh. So, again...what does that mean? What do you actually dooooooo in your office all day?" Other people's jobs are a mystery.

So, it turns out that it's really hard to be a peacekeeper. In fact, I don't think that the UN really knows what they're doing. How do you commit to a mission when you don't actually have any resources to guarantee?

This book was good for one thing. Making me angry. Not quite Naomi Klein angry but at least Eric Schlosser angry. Did I just compare the UN with MacDonalds? I don't think that even makes sense.

So, would I recommend this book? I would say...no. I want to say yes. But unless you're someone who's really into dry non-fiction you probably won't be too into this book. And there's probably just a Wiki entry you can read about the Rwandan genocide. :)

1 comment:

post-fab princess said...

I generally like non fiction. Ages ago I got in the library queue for this book and it was sooo long (like 100 people!) that by the time it arrived I had totally moved on with my life and was too busy to read it before it was due. Friggin queue.