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The man who inspired 'Hotel Rwanda' tells all

As the Rwandan genocide of 1994 raged and eight hundred thousand people were butchered, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina courageously turned his hotel into a safe haven for more than twelve hundred people. His selfless act earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2005 Freedom Award, and inspired the film Hotel Rwanda.

Now for the first time, Rusesabagina tells how he cajoled, bribed, and survived those 100 days of mayhem, and brings to light the impact one individual can have in his memoir An Ordinary Man, available on April 6, 2006.

From An Ordinary Man:
“I am not a politician or a poet. I built my career on words that are plain and ordinary and concerned with everyday details. I am nothing more or less than a hotel manager, trained to negotiate contracts and charged to give shelter to those who need it. My job did not change in the genocide, even though I was thrust into a sea of fire. I only spoke the words that seemed normal and sane to me. I did what I believed to be the ordinary things that an ordinary man would do. I said no to outrageous actions the way I thought that anybody would, and it still mystifies me that so many others could say yes.”

Upcoming major national publicity includes NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” (4/10), op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, a feature interview with Oprah in the March issue of O Magazine, and much more.

An Odinary Man: An Autobiography
ISBN: 0670037524
Viking / Hardcover / 224 pages / $23.95
Available April 6, 2006

Barnes &


As his country was being torn apart by violence during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina refused to succumb to the madness that surrounded him. Confronting killers with a combination of diplomacy, flattery, and deception, he risked his life every day to offer shelter in Kigali’s Hotel Mille Collines to more than twelve hundred Tutsis and Hutu moderates while homicidal mobs brandishing machetes raged outside.

In An Ordinary Man, Rusesabagina tells the story of his life for the first time. As the son of a Hutu father and Tutsi mother, he describes what it was like to grow up on a small farm in a country continually plagued by racial and political unrest. We learn of his extraordinary career path, which led him to become the first Rwandan general manager of a Belgian-owned luxury hotel—the Mille Collines—where he formed important relationships with some of the most powerful men in his country. Rusesabagina takes us inside the hotel for those terrible one hundred says in April 1994, an experience that became the inspiration for the film Hotel Rwanda. He gives a vivid account of the anguish that he and his family and friends suffered as they watched their loved ones hacked to pieces, and of the betrayal they felt as a result of the international community’s refusal to help. Finally, he explains how he and his family, unable to remain in Rwanda when the crisis was over, eventually settled in Belgium and began rebuilding their lives.

Like Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, An Ordinary Man is the story of one man’s remarkable courage—a book that will endure for generations to come.

Paul Rusesabagina is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2005 Freedom Award, among many others.

Tom Zoellner has worked as a contributing editor for Men’s Health magazine and as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of the forthcoming The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire.


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