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Haiti After the Earthquake Hardcover – July 12, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


President Bill Clinton
“A gripping recollection of the quake’s ruin, chaos, and despair, and the story of remarkable persistence, hope, and love in the aftermath.  Once you’ve seen Haiti through Paul Farmer’s eyes, you’ll never see Haitians, or any of the world’s poorest people, quite the same way again.”

Adam Hochschild
“Profoundly moving....An urgent dispatch from the front by one of our finest warriors for social justice.  With eloquence and wisdom, Paul Farmer shows how we cannot fully comprehend one of the great natural disasters of history without understanding the man-made suffering that Americans and others have inflicted on Haiti.”


Madison Capital Times, July 14, 2011
“Through the sharing of his experiences and the essays of fellow relief workers and survivors, the book serves as both a first draft of history and a call to action for rebuilding a country devastated by natural and unnatural disasters… Farmer deftly tells the story of his multiple roles - doctor, administrator and diplomat... His writing remains accessible, revealing hope amid criticism and providing touches of humor in a unique personal narrative… "Haiti After the Earthquake" provides a relevant and engaging look into how Farmer sees the world. Readers will empathize with his anger over Haiti's suffering as well as appreciate his insistence that the disaster should open the way for serious development and rebuilding in a country long ignored.”
Financial Times, July 16, 2011
“Paul Farmer, doctor and aid worker, offers an inspiring insider’s view of the relief effort.”
Wyclef Jean, September 20, 2011
“The book accomplishes a sense of just keeping Haiti fresh in your mind. The disaster’s not over. They’re a people that have lost 250 million people, with 500,000 still living in tents. This book is a reminder of that.”


About the Author

Paul Farmer is the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, and co-founder of Partners In Health. Among his numerous awards and honors is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius award."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 431 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586489739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586489731
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #817,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Farmer is never more so at the top of his game than now in the newly released Haiti after the Earthquake. Poignantly written, Farmer articulates his first hand account of the January 12th earthquake. With detailed descriptions of the redevelopment efforts in post earthquake Haiti, Farmer simultaneously calls attention to the broken and empty promises and efforts made by the international community while celebrating the heroic efforts of so many in the hours just after bagay la (the thing). Noting the unpreparedness of the international community for such a disaster, the reader is able to not only sympathize but feel the immense frustration that so many on the ground felt in those first few hours. The second half, equally moving and inspiring, is told from others' points of view and reveals the hopes and dreams for a Haiti built back better. A must read for anyone interested in Haiti and the redevelopment efforts, or for those frustrated with the seemingly slow pace of reconstruction who are looking for optimism amidst the crushing rubble.
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Format: Hardcover
"You have made the earth tremble;
You have broken it;
Heal its breaches, for it is shaking." -- Psalm 60:2 (NKJV)

Our church teams with its counterpart in Port-au-Prince to operate an orphanage there. Naturally, we've heard a lot about the terrible earthquake and its aftermath. In addition, our pastor has helped coordinate some relief activities as have some church members. They have added perspectives, too.

Because of the great respect I feel for Dr. Paul Farmer and his humanitarian work in Haiti and Rwanda, I thought it was important to find out what he recommends should be done in Haiti. I'm glad I did because he has provided a valuable document combining many perspectives on Haiti's history, its vulnerabilities, what happened during and after the earthquake, and prescriptions for how to build a better Haiti from the rubble and pain. My understanding greatly increased. I especially appreciated the comparisons to Rwanda, which is another nation that concerns me for which and for whose people I also regularly pray . . . as I do for Haiti and its people.

If you don't know any Haitians, you should get to know some. They are fine people who deal with problems in a patient way. They also want to create a better nation. And they can . . . but some changes are required.

It's not all heartwarming in the book. You'll read some things about some journalists and relief "workers" that may make you feel angry and sad. In addition, the scope of the misery and devastation portrayed (the reality, not a false perception) is broad and unrelenting.

But you can help make a difference.

Start by reading this book. Then, pick something you can do to help Haiti . . . and keep doing it for the rest of your life. I think you'll be glad that you did.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A heartbreaking account of the devastating earthquake that ripped Port-au-Prince. Farmer combines thoughtul analysis on policy and historic aspects that contributed to Haiti's precarious situation with on-the-ground accounts of the human deminsion of the tragedy. Sorrowful accounts that affect even the most harden. A great, and important, read.
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Format: Hardcover
I write about this with some ambivalence. Having been recently to Haiti for a reporting project on the aftermath of the earthquake, this book was a valuable first guide. It starts out very strong, evoking the carnage, the initial pulling together, and the incredible efforts of relief workers to save lives and locate bodies. There are some extremely moving essays by witnesses, many of them medical workers whose life work has been ruined or badly damaged. The death toll was almost unprecedented, some 300,000 died within the first weeks - it was one of the only recorded major earthquakes ever to occur in a capital city at 7 on the richter scale.

The first days occupy 120 pages. At first, I was with it, but after 70 pages it was almost too much. The book then degenerates into a helter skelter commentary that mixes policy, individual medical cases, and the personal efforts of the author, Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard University. It is part lament, part prescription, part cry of anguish, part triumph, but leaves the terrible question of what can really be done. Not only is it difficult to get a clear idea of what is happening, but there are gaps in coverage, outdated observations, and factual errors. For example, in my reporting project, I was investigating the establishment an internal displaced persons camp, Corail, which was established as a temporary site but is becoming a permanent ghetto - they took homeless people there to avoid rain-induced mudslides, but it too is in a flood plane. Farmer said the project was considered and then unfortunately abandoned. Moreover, the role of the US military is barely covered, and they provided crucial rescue and medical services in the first 3 months, truly a triumph for American aid.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
I came to know Paul Farmer's work through Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which led me to admire Farmer but also to find him a little bit inaccessible in his intensity. I then read Farmer's own Infections and Inequalities, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So when I saw that Farmer had put together a book on Haiti's experience after the earthquake, I jumped at it.

The first two-thirds of the book are by Farmer, and while there are compelling elements, it felt like some of the content was extraneous. On the one hand, Farmer's account of arriving in Haiti immediately after the quake and working to make do in very difficult circumstances was compelling. His work with former US President Bill Clinton to marshal and coordinate resources from the international community, with all of the strange dynamics that entails, was also very interesting. He also includes a brief history of Haiti, which was interesting for me since it's been a while since I read anything on the country.

At the same time, Farmer includes a lengthy obituary of a co-founder of Partners in Health, Farmer's charity. He includes the story of rebuilding in Rwanda after the quake. Myriad characters file in and out, so many that I had trouble keeping track of who was who. Occasionally the book felt redundant. For example, some of the discussion of the US floating hospital, the USS Comfort, is repeated.

The last third of the book, essays by others who worked with Haiti at the time, has shining elements.
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