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Published on Jan 2, 2009
Fourteen years after the 1994 genocide that claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days, Rwandans continue the daily work of rebuilding their shattered country. In light of recent reports that one in four people suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder--which Rwandans aptly describe as ihahamuka or "breathless with fear"--how is recovery even possible? In search of answers, foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer traveled extensively throughout Rwanda where he observed an astonishing economic and political transformation based surprisingly on Asian models, and the implementation of unconventional reconciliation efforts. The author also conducted extensive interviews with Rwanda's enigmatic president, Paul Kagame. The result of Kinzer's quest is A Thousand Hills, a page-turning story of a society desperately trying to regain its breath, and an ambitious and autocratic leader's unrelenting efforts to breathe life into its future. Kinzer (All the Shah's Men) has penned a hagiographic account of Rwandan president Paul Kagame, the Tutsi refugee who organized the Rwandan Military Front in 1994 and helped halt the genocide in Rwanda. Instead of settling scores, Kagame embarked on a program of reconciliation and reconstruction; Kinzer eloquently describes a physical and psychological recovery unmatched in Africa: a Rwanda whose people are bubbling with a sense of unlimited possibility. Kagame's goal, modeled on the successes of Asian tigers like Singapore, aims to transform Rwanda into the continent's first middle-income country in a single generation, eschewing foreign aid in favor of reliance on business-driven development.