An Ordinary Man - An Autobiography

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2007, 12:00am

An Ordinary Man - An Autobiography


by Paul Rusesabagina, with Tom Zoellner


Penguin, HK$105


'Facts are almost irrelevant to most people,' writes Paul Rusesabagina in An Ordinary Man. 'We make decisions based on emotions and then justify them later with whatever facts we can scrounge up in our defence.' Reason, he says, is an afterthought for why people do what they do, 'a cover story for the feelings inside'. Rusesabagina was manager of the Mille Collines hotel in Kabeza, on which the film Hotel Rwanda was based. This autobiography, written after the film with the help of American journalist Tom Zoellner, is Rusesabagina trying to fit facts around his decision to protect 1,268 mostly Tutsis in a hotel built for 300, from being massacred by Hutu extremists. An Ordinary Man is a chillingly dramatic story, thanks to Zoellner's skill in letting Rusesabagina tell his story in his own way. What emerges is a philosophical examination of the horrors man inflicts on man. Its effect is surreal. 'The cousin of brutality is a terrifying normalcy,' he writes. 'My only goal was saving the lives of the people upstairs, and questions of my taste in friendship were secondary - if they were relevant at all.'