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The Dead Yard: A Story of Modern Jamaica Paperback – March 29, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Journalist Thomson (Bonjour Blanc) offers a portrait of contemporary Jamaica beyond the clichés of "golden beaches and guns, guns, guns." Thomson spoke to Jamaicans from all strata of society: white Jamaicans, beneficiaries of fortunes built on slave labor, now hiding in their crumbling plantation mansions, terrified of the encroaching violence; Rastafarians and Maroons; rabbis and priests; tired bureaucrats and armed youths; Indian and Chinese shopkeepers; the musicians and producers that have exported Jamaican music all over the globe. At times the book is overcrowded with characters and lacks a cohesive argument, but the elegant capsule histories of major figures and events ground the interviews in context. What emerges is a portrait of a country haunted by its colonial past, still trying to define itself apart from the two imperial powers (U.S. and British) that have shaped it thus far, and of a diverse people who struggle to hold on to their hope for a brighter future. (Apr.)
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"The Dead Yard" author Ian Thompson spends most of his time with Jamaicans and ex-pats that visitors to the "all-inclusive" resorts never meet, the REAL 1'%ers (descendants of slave masters and similar aristocracy,) who live in a climate of fear, hatred, and despair. I found them to be, on the whole, irritating and condescending, especially the English painter,who boasts of his exploitation of young Jamaican girls. Thompson rightly expresses his disgust of this creep.
Among the few admirable folks Thompson meets are Catholic priests and other "do-gooders",who attempt to broker gang truces and administer job training programs, amidst a rampantly corrupt and disintegrating legal, political, and social environment. These brave men and women gave me what little hope I took from this otherwise mostly depressing read.
On the whole, I can't recommend this book as a travel guide, one probably won't want to visit Jamaica after reading it. It does give an unflinching view of a class of privileged individuals whom events have left behind, to wallow in an atmosphere of decay and irrelevance. A very sad story.
It is just a form of pornography for white liberals who fantasize about communism but have lived their whole lives in first world capitalist countries. No I’m not conservative, I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter but this kind of cultural ignorance does not explain Jamaica or help poverty.
Jamaica has poverty yes, but it’s not doom and gloom like this man protrays it. Also he did not visit any deep rural communities he only went into a few cities and does timid interviews by just picking either the nearest person he comes across or the one bad minded individual.
Books about poverty in other countries should not be written by foreigners with agendas.