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Journey into DarknessJourney into Darkness

Genocide in Rwanda

Thomas P. Odom

Narrated by Claton Butcher

Available from Audible

Book published by Texas A&M University Press

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.

Thomas P. Odom is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He served as an Army strategic scout for over fifteen years, with five tours in the Middle East and Africa, and as the U.S. Army’s current intelligence officer on the Middle East during the first Gulf War. Among his previous publications are two books on hostage rescues in the Congo. He is the coauthor of the U.S. Army’s History of the Gulf War.


“Odom’s book is a welcome contribution to the literature on Rwanda. He writes of a turbulent period not just on the ground, but also in the corridors of power and policy. While there were legitimate disputes, Odom’s recitation shows that the observations and expertise of those in the field provide the most realistic basis on which to frame policy. Sadly, it is a lesson that we continually confront, but never seem to learn.”

—Robert E. Gribbin, former U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda

“Thomas Odom’s Journey into Darkness brings to the fore the anatomy of failure and inaction of the international community, including the United States of America, during and the aftermath of 1994 Rwandan genocide. His narrative provides a rare but accurate account of the real challenges facing Rwanda and the region and why the efforts to seek solutions to the very challenges have been elusive ever since. His assessment of the situation was as valid then as it is today. [His] story derives its strength from his unreserved honesty on all the events recounted, understanding the complexity about Rwanda and the region, professionalism as well as his empathy for the people he came into contact with. Journey into Darkness is an excellent contribution to the understanding of the Rwandan genocide and its regional consequences. It is a ‘must’ read piece of work for all decision and policy makers in governments or private civic organizations.”

—Dr. Zac Nsenga, Ambassador of Rwanda, Washington, D.C.

“Odom joins the rowing and honorable list of military men frustrated by what turned out to be the tragic US-UN hesitations over humanitarian intervention in Rwanda—highly recommended.”


“The book provides a unique insight into a multicultural and multinational environment and the associated high level politics that surround intense events such as genocide—Odom’s story is so vivid the reader can easily picture the events and feel the frustration resulting from the milieu of miscommunication, distance, culture, preconceived notions, and personal agendas—his account of the culture, the military, and the Goma refugee situation in Zaire provides an excellent background for the entire crisis.”

Military Review

“Accounts by military officers who have actually served in the field are relatively rare and, as a memoir, this book is unique. [Odom] is also a perceptive observer and is skilled at translating his perceptions and conclusions into verbal images and in evoking the feel and drama of the events. In particular, the book offers valuable insights into the culture of the army at high levels, based on the author’s direct participation in key events, such as in the Gulf War, and his personal interaction with senior political and military officers. This is a darn good read!”

—Norman Cigar, U.S. Marine Corps Command & Staff College

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University Press Audiobooks