448 pages, 9.56 × 6.19 × 1.56 in
November 7, 2013
Henry Holt and Co.
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0805093354
ISBN - 13: 9780805093353
Read from the Book
Introduction"For eighty years Haiti has been judged," Louis-Joseph Janvier wrote in 1883. Since the birth of their country in 1804, Haitians had been incessantly "accused" by outsiders, and it was time for them to respond.1A Haitian student living in Paris, Janvier was particularly outraged by a set of newspaper articles by Victor Cochinat, a visitor from the French colony of Martinique. Having spent a scant few weeks in Haiti, Cochinat had penned a cutting portrait of the country's culture, its people, and its politics. Some of his complaints were just those of a grouchy traveler: the porters in the harbor were disorderly and ill-clad, there was no set price for anything, Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince was dirty and unpleasant and full of beggars. But Cochinat quickly extrapolated much more. Haitians were lazy and "ashamed" of work, he wrote, which was why they were so poor. They spent too much money on rum. The children of the country were "lively and intelligent," but their parents gave them funny names—instead of Paul or Jacques, they chose the names of Haitian heroes, Greek philosophers, and French writers—and these, Cochinat asserted somewhat mysteriously, "interfere with their intellectual development." He teased that Haitians, having freed themselves from slavery, seemed "enamored" of the whip, using it against their children. Haiti, as he saw it, was a farce, a "phantasmagoria of civilization." It was a nation of "admirals without boats, generals without sol
From the Publisher
A passionate and insightful account by a leading historian of Haiti that traces the sources of the country's devastating present back to its turbulent and traumatic history
Even before the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois makes clear, Haiti's troubled present can only be understood by examining its complex past. The country's difficulties are inextricably rooted in its founding revolution--the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world; the hostility that this rebellion generated among the colonial powers surrounding the island nation; and the intense struggle within Haiti itself to define its newfound freedom and realize its promise.
Dubois vividly depicts the isolation and impoverishment that followed the 1804 uprising. He details how the crushing indemnity imposed by the former French rulers initiated a devastating cycle of debt, while frequent interventions by the United States--including a twenty-year military occupation--further undermined Haiti's independence. At the same time, Dubois shows, the internal debates about what Haiti should do with its hard-won liberty alienated the nation's leaders from the broader population, setting the stage for enduring political conflict. Yet as Dubois demonstrates, the Haitian people have never given up on their struggle for true democracy, creating a powerful culture insistent on autonomy and equality for all.
Revealing what lies behind the familiar moniker of "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," this indispensable book illuminates the foundations on which a new Haiti might yet emerge.
About the Author
Laurent Dubois is the author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2004. The Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University, Dubois has written on Haiti for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and the New Yorker Web site, among other publications, and is the codirector of the Haiti Lab at the Franklin Humanities Institute. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
A masterpiece. For those who, perusing the headlines, sometimes find themselves moved to ask the perennial question 'Why is Haiti like that?,' Laurent Dubois provides a brilliant and perceptive riposte. Wielding sharp, unsettling anecdotes and a flowing prose style, Dubois plumbs Haiti's rich and singular history--with its unlikely heroes and persuasive demons, its exploiters and its misérables, its compromisers and its intransigents--to teach us important and subtle lessons in revolution, occupation, and liberation. These lessons go well beyond the concerns of Haitianists to encompass the great surge of human history, which may well be bearing us, today, toward another similar age of revolution and upheaval.