Haiti by Laurent Dubois
The Aftershocks of History

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Synopsis

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 Laurent Dubois

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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.
 
Published January 3, 2012 by Metropolitan Books. 448 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Haiti

Kirkus Reviews

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Haiti was free, but a free country established by former black slaves—they had transgressed an order based not only on plantation slavery, but also racism.

Nov 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

The New York Times

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The scholar Laurent Dubois’s new book relates the violent birth and troubled existence of Haiti, a tale of much misery, shot through with flashes of hope and bravery.

Dec 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

The New York Times

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But the real freeing of Haiti from the burdens of its past — a task now made immeasurably greater by the catastrophic earthquake of 2010 — can be done only by Haitians themselves.

Dec 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

Publishers Weekly

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Decades of absolute dictatorship by “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his feckless, brutal son, “Baby Doc” Duvalier left a looted, indebted nation whose civil institutions “had been largely dismantled or absorbed by the state.” Dubois does an admirable job of condensing turbulent political hist...

Oct 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

Examiner

Synopsis: The reader will enter the old habitat of Haiti, as it was known to Columbus (La Espanola).

Feb 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

London Review of Books

But long before the end came, government attacks on political opponents, the press and human rights workers (see the reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights and Reporters sans frontières) had isolated Aristide’s Haiti from the international ...

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Bookmarks Magazine

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 indispensa...

Jan 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Haiti: The Aftershocks of His...

International Socialist Review

Dubois argues a similar point in a recent essay in the New York Times: “As Haitians look to rebuild in 2012, the best blueprints will come from their own proud and vibrant history.” Dubois is also the authored of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution in 2004, described...

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