An individual overcomes unbelievable odds, in a tale so implausible that it might well be rejected if it were a mere movie script, but it is a true story. In "Strength in What Remains," Tracy Kidder tells us about a member of the Tutsi ethnic group in Burundi named Deogratias, or Deo, who barely escapes the Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in a harrowing journey on foot out of Burundi and Rwanda in central Africa during the genocidal year 1994. Deo makes his way to New York City but arrives penniless and speaking no English. He sleeps on a scrap of floor in crime-ridden tenements, endures abusive low-wage employment and then finds himself homeless, living in Central Park.
Despite such unpromising beginnings, Deo goes on to earn a degree in organic chemistry and philosophy from Columbia University and then gets into Dartmouth Medical School. From Dartmouth, he takes time off to start a free health clinic back in Burundi—in his home village, a mark of his forgiveness for those who had tried to kill him and a sign of hope for Burundi's future.
Read the rest of the review of Tracy Kidder's book in today's Wall Street Journal, here.