The book describes Gourevitch's travels in a Rwanda after the conflict, in which he interviews survivors and gathers information. Gourevitch retells survivors' stories, and reflects on the meaning of the genocide.
The title comes from an April 15, 1994, letter written to Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's operations in western Rwanda, by several Adventist pastors who had taken refuge with other Tutsis in an Adventist hospital in the locality of Mugonero in Kibuye prefecture. Gourevitch accused Ntakirutimana of aiding the killings that happened in the complex the next day. Ntakirutimana was eventually convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
This book won numerous awards, including the 1998 National Book Critics Circle award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 1999 Guardian First Book Award and the George K. Polk Award for Foreign Reporting.