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The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier Paperback – June 15, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671706284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671706289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1986, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's "president-for-life," was forced to flee his country. A military junta had seized power, and the widespread feeling of unrest that had been brewing for years among the Haitian peasantry and the urban poor came to a boil, resulting in chaos: mass strikes, riots and other forms of violence. Wilentz's first book carefully, sensitively narrates these events in the first person, providing historical background when necessary, and telling the stories of Haitians from all walks of life, from the infamous "Tontons Macoute"--a ruthless government-sponsored vigilante group--to voodoo priests (who speak at length of their magic), and including government officials, missionaries, intellectuals, workers and the unemployed. The former Time reporter's numerous visits to the island between 1986 and 1988 enrich her account with details of daily life, both in the dilapidated alleys and slums of Port-au-Prince and in remote villages tucked away in lush tropical mountains. Her vivid record of an important piece of contemporary world history captures the sad political and quotidian existence of an impoverished albeit physically beautiful country.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This welcome interpretation of Haiti provides many insights into a country that few North Americans understand. Wilentz, a journalist, captures the complex cultural ambience and mystery of domestic politics with a penetrating eye and powerful description. Covering the years 1986-89, Wilentz analyzes political developments, centering her interpretations on the activities of a radical priest, interspersed with individual Haitian portraits and personal incidents. The flavor of Haiti is superbly conveyed, as are some unsavory aspects of the role of the press, the Catholic Church, and the U.S. embassy, but Wilentz's narrative is often unclear and her objectivity flawed. For academic and large public libraries.
- Roderic A. Camp, Central Coll., Pella, Ia .
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I grew up in a small, industrial town in New Jersey, a place unimaginably distant in every way from my latest home in Los Angeles, where I live with my husband and three sons. I moved to California as Arnold Schwarzenegger was making his political debut, and I wrote a book about it. But since the earthquake in Port-au-Prince in January, my heart has returned with a crash to Haiti, the country that made me, as a writer. Haitians are still dealing every day with the horror and reality of the quake. And in my way, I'm still wrestling with what it means to me to lose so much and so many. My reaction has been to write, of course -- and to attempt to focus the proper kind of outside attention on Haiti. But I'm also trying in my own way to be of use; helping to support a little boy who lost both hands when a wall fell on him, trying to put together a library of images of Haitian art that was destroyed in the quake, and even thinking about going down to help rebuild, although I am definitely more efficient with a keyboard than with a hammer. Meanwhile, my publisher is reissuing The Rainy Season, my book about Haiti, with a new, post-quake introduction. I'm amazed at how I continue to be drawn to the country and to identify with it -- to feel shattered when it is shattered, to be happy on the rare days when things are going well, to be okay in those long stretches when things are pretty much all right. I trust in a lot of cliches in these moments of enormous tragedy, the main one being this: maybe out of the rubble will emerge something new, maybe even something better, but something still beautiful, still authentic, still Haitian.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "g2004" on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
In The Rainy Season, Wilentz leads the reader through the world of Haiti and its people, both those who are corrupt and those who struggle each day against corruption. I will visit Haiti for the 6th time this summer but I have not previously read anything in-depth about Haitian history. This book opened my eyes to essential information that every traveller to Haiti should be aware of, out of respect to the violent history of Haiti and the people who have survived through it. No one should attempt to "help" the Haitian people without first understanding the results of "help" already rendered in the past. Wilentz makes these (often tragic) results clear, and humbles all of us in the process.
If you have gone to Haiti, or will go to Haiti, whether as a missionary, journalist, diplomat, or foreign aid worker, don't go ignorant. Read The Rainy Season (and more recent publications as well) first.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jenifer Wells on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are trying to figure out the muddle that is Haitian political history, this book can help. Covering Haiti from the fall of Baby Doc until early 1989, Willentz gives a close-up look at the parade of dictators and terrorists running the (in theory) post-Duvalier country. She also provides a personal connection to Aristide, then a radical priest continually in hiding from a government wishing to silence him.
In addition to the internal political movements and terrorism, Willentz shows us the ties between Haiti's troubles and the United States. If you are not familiar with American policy in regard to Haiti, you will be in for a disappointing and infuriating surprise. We sucked!
The book also covers the standards to be found in every book on Haiti: voodoo, illiteracy, slave revolution rememberings, hunger, poverty, exploitation, class and racial imbalances.
Perhaps its greatest asset is the datedness of the text. Written after Duvalier and before Aristide, the view of both is fairly unbiased. If you want to learn more about Haiti's past, present and future, you should check this one out.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading a copy of this book I found in a second-hand store. It's too bad it is out of print, because it is brilliant. It covers the period from 1986 to 1989, so it is a bit out of date -- a lot has happened in Haiti since then. But it remains relevant because it paints a vivid portrait of how challenging it is to change Haiti, something that remains true today. If you can find it, read it.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Sue on November 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is great reading and provides a lot of insight into Haiti. HOWEVER, Ms Wilentz is a biased journalist. One does not become an expert about something just by visiting and interviewing a few folks here and there.
I lived and worked in Haiti for 9 years in a couple of small southern towns. I have come to know the customs and the people. Not all are in agreement with Aristide, who was seen as a demon by many of the Haitians, and rightly so. He was no different than the other dictators who came before him. One example, he advocated "necklacing" of those who disagreed with him.
Wilentz also thinks voodoo is just great. She hasn't lived with the people who have been threatened, exploited, and killed by those who practice this religion. It is not benign, but evokes fear in those who dare to stand against it. Aristide is also a voodooist who used the dark magic to scare those against him.
So again, it is a great read, but it isn't the "gospel truth" on all things Haitian. It is her viewpoint on the things she has had contact with. It is not an unbiased work, nor extensive. It must be read with those things in mind.
It is a great read, well-written, but biased.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph S. Murchison on May 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Amy Wilentz is the best kind of journalist: a great writer, but also a person who spent the time--often in courageous circumstances--to know her subjects deeply. Her portraits of the people she met and events she experienced in Haiti, along with her lively dissertations on Haiti's history, are vivid and poignant. Her images have embedded themselves in my mind and haunted my dreams.
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