From Hope to Horror


From Hope to Horror

Diplomacy and the Making of the Rwanda Genocide

Joyce E. Leader
Foreword by Pauline H. Baker

440 pages
1 map, 1 chronology, index


March 2020


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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March 2020


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2020


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

As deputy to the U.S. ambassador in Rwanda, Joyce E. Leader witnessed the tumultuous prelude to genocide—a period of political wrangling, human rights abuses, and many levels of ominous, ever-escalating violence. From Hope to Horror offers her insider’s account of the nation’s efforts to move toward democracy and peace and analyzes the challenges of conducting diplomacy in settings prone to—or engaged in—armed conflict.
Leader traces the three-way struggle for control among Rwanda’s ethnic and regional factions. Each sought to shape democratization and peacemaking to its own advantage. The United States, hoping to encourage a peaceful transition, midwifed negotiations toward an accord. The result: a revolutionary blueprint for political and military power-sharing among Rwanda’s competing factions that met categorical rejection by the “losers” and a downward spiral into mass atrocities. Drawing on the Rwandan experience, Leader proposes ways diplomacy can more effectively avert the escalation of violence by identifying the unintended consequences of policies and emphasizing conflict prevention over crisis response.

Compelling and expert, From Hope to Horror fills in the forgotten history of the diplomats who tried but failed to prevent a human rights catastrophe.

Author Bio

Joyce E. Leader is a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who served as the deputy chief of mission in Rwanda and as a U.S. observer to the Rwandan peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania. She culminated her State Department career as an ambassador to the Republic of Guinea in West Africa. She specializes in political affairs, refugee affairs, human rights, conflict resolution, and international organizations.


"Joyce Leader has written a fascinating book that will appeal to students and practitioners of diplomacy as much as it will to scholars of Central Africa."—Susan Thomson, International Journal of African Historical Studies

"This book is a bold, powerful and highly consequential work of great urgency and importance. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with the ethics and efficacy of diplomacy, of its integrity as an expression of national policy and of the human rights and welfare of the individuals it can touch. It should be required reading for anyone working at the State Department and its counterparts in ministries
of foreign affairs around the world. It is a warning, a lament and a clarion call for a more just, humane, effective and accountable diplomacy that is proactive rather than reactive. It offers a blueprint for deep structural change within diplomacy and a soft-spoken and erudite yet passionate plea for greater attention and commitment to ethics and human rights in diplomacy."—Noam Schimmel, International Affairs

"Leader, a retired US Foreign Service officer, writes a compelling account of the Rwandan genocide through the lens of failed diplomacy. . . . This book is an essential addition to libraries serving undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty working on human rights issues across disciplines."—C. Pinto, Choice

“Ambassador Joyce E. Leader provides a rare, moving, and personal account of the path to genocide in Rwanda, arguing that U.S. and international diplomacy, which prioritized democracy promotion and peace over conflict prevention, inadvertently contributed to the crisis. From Hope to Horror offers practical lessons for policy makers derived from Rwanda’s tragedy.”—Susan E. Rice, former national security adviser and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations

“Joyce Leader’s authoritative account of the years and months leading up to Rwanda’s orgy of killing in 1994 is destined to become a definitive history of what went wrong, why, and when. It belongs at the center of literature on this important episode in Africa’s modern history.”—Chester A. Crocker, James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

“Insightful and compassionate, this book details the bitter power struggle behind the Rwandan genocide. . . . Joyce Leader makes a convincing, heartfelt case for early diplomatic interventions to stem conflicts before military involvement.”—Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (Ret.), former commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Rwanda

“A treasure trove of information and insights. Joyce Leader’s plan for diplomatic reform that would prioritize conflict prevention and resolution and her detailed organizational proposals deserve wide reading within the foreign policy and national security policy communities.”—Herman J. Cohen, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs and career ambassador

“Joyce Leader obliges us to . . . ask how so many well-intentioned diplomats could have inadvertently contributed to one of the most murderous episodes in modern history. Her book is a must-read for all who hope to honor the injunction ‘Never again!’”—George Moose, vice chair of the U.S. Institute of Peace and former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs

“There is no better source of information on the lead-up to the Rwandan genocide than Ambassador Joyce Leader. She brings a wealth of knowledge as a seasoned foreign service officer and diplomat in Rwanda at that time. This volume is useful for policy makers and academics alike.”—Susan F. Martin, Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emerita of International Migration at Georgetown University

Table of Contents

Pauline H. Baker
List of Abbreviations
Part 1. Rwanda’s Struggle for Democracy and Peace, 1991–1994
1. Political Liberalization Takes Off
2. War Intrudes
3. Rights Abuses and Violence Sow Fear
4. Opposition Parties Join a Coalition Government
5. Peace Talks Begin and a Cease-Fire Takes Hold
6. Democratization Flounders
7. Turning Point: Adversaries Tackle Power Sharing
8. Violence Stalks Democratization and Prospects for Peace
9. The January from Hell: Diplomacy at a Crossroads
10. Diplomats Undertake a Fact-Finding Mission
11. War Resumes
12. A Second Chance for Peace
13. Arusha Observer: The Setting
14. Arusha Observer: The Negotiations
15. The Dénouement: Arusha Peace Accords Signed
16. Preparing to Implement the Arusha Accords
17. Violence Plagues Implementation
18. Implementation Stalls
19. The Exodus
20. Return to Rwanda
Part 2. Why Diplomacy Failed
21. Diplomatic Challenges
22. Making Conflict Prevention a Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Priority
23. Fixes for the Future from Failures of the Past
Conclusion: Changing the Paradigm
Chronology of Events, 1959–1994


2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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