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Journey into Darkness

Genocide in Rwanda

By Thomas P. Odom; Foreword by Dennis J. Reimer

Publication Year: 2005

In July 1994, Thomas P. Odom was part of the U.S. Embassy team that responded to the Goma refugee crisis. He witnessed the deaths of 70,000 refugees in a single week. In the previous three months of escalating violence, the Rwandan genocide had claimed 800,000 dead. Now, in this vivid and unsettling new book, Odom offers the first insider look at these devastating events before, during, and after the genocide. Odom draws on his years of experience as a Defense Attaché and foreign area specialist in the United States Army to offer a complete picture of the situation in Zaire and Rwanda, focusing on two U.S. embassies, intelligence operations, U.N. peacekeeping efforts, and regional reactions. His team attempted to slow the death by cholera of refugees in Goma, guiding in a U.S. Joint Task Force and Operation Support Hope and remaining until the United States withdrew its forces forty days later. After U.S. forces departed, Odom crossed into Rwanda to spend the next eighteen months reestablishing the embassy, working with the Rwandan government, and creating the U.S.-Rwandan Demining office. Odom assisted the U.S. Ambassador and served as the principal military advisor on Rwanda to the U.S. Department of Defense and National Security Council throughout his time in Rwanda. His book candidly reveals Odom’s frustration with Washington as his predictions that a larger war was coming were ignored. Unfortunately, he was proven correct: the current death toll in that unfortunate country is close to three million. Odom’s account of the events in Rwanda illustrate not only illustrate how failures in intelligence and policy happen, but also show that a human context is necessary to comprehend these political decisions.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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Title Page

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in December, 1989, the world changed dramatically. The Cold War era that existed for almost fifty years gave way to the New World Order that some have described as “long on new and short on order.” The pace of change during the last decade of the twentieth century is unprecedented. ...

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pp. xiii-2

Genocide is a purely human experience, for only man is capable of genocide. Yet genocide also brings into question the humanity of man; the poison of genocide kills the souls of the perpetrators, sears the hearts of the survivors, and eliminates another uniquely human attribute, man’s capacity for mercy. I hope this memoir will illuminate that horror. ...

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CHAPTER 1: Early Years

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pp. 3-8

I did not pick Africa, much less Zaire or Rwanda. Africa picked me. In March, 1978, I was blissfully unaware the Dark Continent lay in my future. I was doing what I wanted to do, leading men. A junior officer in the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, ...

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CHAPTER 2: Soldier, Scout, Statesman

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pp. 9-53

Like all intelligence officers in the late 1970s, I lived and breathed the Soviet threat. But it became apparent that the army had enough Soviet experts. I considered myself a student of Israeli military history. So when selected for early graduate schooling, I decided to become a Middle East foreign area officer (FAO), ...

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CHAPTER 3: Return to Zaire

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pp. 54-79

Going back to Zaire was a decision that evolved over my last two years in the Pentagon. Part of it was professional and the other personal. The professional interest stemmed from my long association with the place. I knew the country and wanted to live there. I had watched recent events fulfill Belgian prophecies about its inevitable collapse. ...

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CHAPTER 4: A Little Town, a Little Hell: Goma

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pp. 80-129

The Rwandan genocide had begun with the downing of the president’s plane on its return from Arusha on April 6, 1994. We—the international community in Zaire—watched the events and pondered their implications. Soon the French were drawn into Operation Turquoise, nominally a humanitarian operation ...

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CHAPTER 5: Operation Support Hope

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pp. 130-158

Brigadier General Nix’s brief signaled the true beginning of Operation Support Hope. Stan arrived just in time to get the main body of JTF-A on the ground. To this day I am grateful I had a sergeant like Stan Reber working for me. No one knew Zaire and Zairians better. ...

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CHAPTER 6: Land of the Dead

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pp. 159-209

I was lonely on the flight back to Goma, closing a chapter in my life and leaving a close friend. I was also starting a new chapter, at once frightening and exciting. One thing was certain: I was through with the embassy in Kinshasa, a tremendous relief. I managed to keep my seat on this flight. ...

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CHAPTER 7: Resurrecting a Country

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pp. 210-259

It might be a new year, but it was still Rwanda and the troubles were not over. David and I had stated that the goal of policy making in Rwanda had to be reducing the killing. Stopping the killing was impossible. Although the refugee camps across the border remained the most serious threat to stability, there were internal parallels. ...

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CHAPTER 8: War Clouds Gather

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pp. 260-270

Once again it seemed strange to be going back to Rwanda. I had been there a year on a ninety-day assignment. I mulled over the changes in my life. I had lost a marriage, and I was looking at retiring in six months. The latter sparked the realization that this was my last trip overseas as a soldier. ...

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pp. 271-278

Two weeks later dressed in my greens I sat in my truck outside the personnel office at Fort Meade. It was my retirement day and the final time to wear my greens. Since my return the last day of March, I had out-processed DIA and then the army. Rick Moore at headquarters handed me a retirement award, and we shook hands. That was my goodbye from DIA. ...


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pp. 279-284


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pp. 285-286


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pp. 287-297

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446136
E-ISBN-10: 1603446133
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444571
Print-ISBN-10: 158544457X

Page Count: 312
Illustrations: 14 b&w photos. Map.
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 825768164
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Journey into Darkness

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Goma (Nord-Kivu, Congo) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Diplomats -- United States -- Biography.
  • Refugees -- Congo (Democratic Republic) -- Goma (Nord-Kivu) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Genocide -- Rwanda -- History -- 20th century.
  • Odom, Thomas P. (Thomas Paul), 1953-.
  • Diplomats -- Rwanda -- Biography.
  • Americans -- Rwanda -- Biography.
  • Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- Atrocities.
  • Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- Refugees.
  • Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- Personal narratives, American.
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