Promised Land (“Terre Promise”), by Thierry Cruvellier

1 min

Promised Land (“Terre Promise”), by Thierry Cruvellier

In Promised Land, journalist Thierry Cruvellier pays tribute to Sierra Leone, a country with a history as exciting as it is eventful.


© Gallimard

The search for justice

Journalist Thierry Cruvellier covered Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991 to 1996, then the Rwandan genocide trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – an experience he described in 2006 in Court of Remorse (“Le Tribunal des vaincus”).


Between 2007 and 2011, the journalist followed the work of the extraordinary Cambodian courts that judged the Khmer Rouge officials and told the tale, in The Master of Confessions (“Le Maître des aveux”) (2011), of the trial of Duch, the head of prison S-21 in Phnom Penh who was responsible for the torture and death of more than 12,000 victims.


In 2018, Thierry Cruvellier published a new story, this time about Sierra Leone: Promised Land.


Sixty years of history

In Promised Land, Thierry Cruvellier retraces the history of Sierra Leone since its independence in 1961.


This former British colony, which was one of the richest countries in West Africa, over the last 50 years has been struck by a succession of hardships. After the 1967 coup, the country became a police state with a single party: the All People's Congress. The population gradually saw roads, electricity and public buildings disappear.


In 1991 there was a devastating civil war which would last until 2002. In 2013, Sierra Leoneans faced another tragedy: the Ebola outbreak.


Literary journalism

Thierry Cruvellier is well acquainted with Sierra Leone: after five years of covering the civil war, he returned there at the end of the conflict and followed the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was put in place by the Sierra-Leone State in 2002, following UN recommendations.


In 2014, he returned there for a few weeks to work on his book Promised Land. Through this story, which the author describes as "literary journalism", Thierry Cruvellier wishes first and foremost to pay tribute to the people of Sierra-Leone, who are driven by a spirit of resistance and humour in the face of adversity which impressed the journalist.


A journalist without frontiers

Thierry Cruvellier has become a major figure in international justice.


A representative of Reporters without Borders between 1994 and 1995 for the Great Lakes region of Africa (Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Uganda), the journalist is also a consultant for the International Center for Transitional Justice on the issue of the Balkans, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Cambodia.


In autumn 2017, Thierry Cruvellier was visiting professor at the University of Madison where he taught a course on international criminal justice.


The Institut français and the project

Selected for the Institut français Stendhal Hors les murs programme, Thierry Cruvellier lived in Sierra Leone in 2014.


The Stendhal Residency programme allows French authors or authors living in France to travel to a foreign country and work on a writing project related to that country.