Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Haiti: The Aftershocks of History Hardcover – January 3, 2012
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
“Well-written, authoritative history… enriched by careful attention to what Haitian intellectuals have had to say about their country over the last two centuries.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“A sweeping, passionate history of Haiti... Smart, honest, and utterly compelling, this book is the national biography this country and its people deserve.” ―Boston Globe
“A book as welcome as it is timely: a lucid one-volume history of the nation, from Toussaint to the present, anchored in scholarship but rendered as a comprehensive-but-swift narrative for the general reader.” ―The Nation
“This excellent, engaging history seeks to strip away centuries of mocking and reductive bias. Dubois's Haiti is a land of ceaseless activity, a ferment of suppression and insurrection exacerbated by the mercenary intrusions of foreign powers--in the past century, chiefly the United States. Dubois also traces a parallel history of bold social experiments on the part of everyday Haitians… Throughout, he makes clear how economic pressures and political crises have left even the county's better leaders hamstrung, without downplaying their failures in fulfilling Haiti's great promise.” ―The New Yorker
“An admirable chronicle… Reading Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, I was repeatedly struck by the deep and detailed explanations of things that had never quite made sense to me about Haiti. Those ‘aha' moments were some of the most satisfying passages in this engrossing and deeply-researched book.” ―The Miami Herald
“A vigorous, knowledgeable and empathetic account... A pleasure to add to my collection of writings about Haiti.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Fascinating… For anyone with even a little interest in Haiti, this book is an essential read.” ―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Very few times have I been able to say that I learned something new about a subject with which I am ostensibly familiar. But this is the case on virtually every page of Laurent Dubois's Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. Dubois, the veritable dean of Haitian studies, has produced that rarest of things: a highly entertaining narrative for the general reader, but one deeply satisfying to the scholar as well. This brilliant book, a compelling and colorful saga of the triumph and tragedy of Haitian revolution and freedom, should be required reading for anyone who wonders from whence the ‘curse on Haiti' really emanated.” ―Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
“Laurent Dubois is an impeccable scholar and a master storyteller. Haiti: The Aftershocks of History is the new standard work in English on the astounding panorama of Haitian history, from the seismic events of its founding to the earthquake of 2010.” ―Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls' Rising
“Haiti’s history is tragic and noble, worth knowing for its own sake and essential to the country’s future. This book is an admirable synthesis of that history―sensible, comprehensive, and gracefully written.” ―Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
“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.” ―Amy Wilentz, author of The Rainy Season
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The worst of all of that is the reason put forward by some famous `development experts' to explain why Haiti is so poor? Haitians, they contend, are lazy, undisciplined and lack the work ethic. In other words, Haitian's culture - defined in terms of "values, attitudes, beliefs, orientations, and underlying assumptions prevalent among the people" - is the primary obstacle that impedes its development. A fair illustration is Lawrence Harrison's book "Underdevelopment is a State of Mind." Harrison's book used parallel case studies to show that in most Latin American countries, culture had been inimical to development. In the case of Haiti, Harrison is blunt. To him, "while [in Haiti] the caste system has clearly been a major obstacle to national integration and progress, a number of values and attitudes shared by the entire society also get in the way of progress." The former USAID expert further contends that Haiti's culture is inherited from West African values, attitudes and institutions, particularly from the Region of Dahomey, known today as Benin. Cultural values such as the Voodoo is so inculcated in Haitian mind that they refuse to look forward but focusing their attention on the ancestral past.
This ethnocentric account regarding Haiti, however, is not new. It has over the times taken different shapes. Victor Cochinat, a visitor from the French colony of Martinique, had painted a similar picture of Haiti at the end of the 19th century. After spending few days in the island, Cochinat came to the conclusion that Haitians were lazy and ashamed of work and this was the reason why they were so poor. He went on to say that Haiti is a farce and a phantasmagoria of civilization. This unsubstantiated claim did not go unchallenged. Our then young eminent intellectual Louis Joseph Janvier offered a sardonic six-hundred-page history of "Haiti and its visitors" in which he asked for a shred of objectify to anyone like Cochinat visiting the country.
In Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, Laurent Dubois sets himself a likewise task. Like Janvier, he writes a four-hundred-thirty-four-page history starting from the nation's independence to the present aftermath of one of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history that struck the country in 2010, killed more than 250,000 people and left millions homeless. He intends to demonstrate that the argument of modern-day Cochinats and other like-minded Haitian-phobic intellectuals are ill-informed speculation. For those who are still wondering why the once richest colony in the world is now the poorest country in the hemisphere, Dubois is straightforward: the true causes of Haiti's precarious conditions shouldn't be a conundrum. Haiti's poverty has nothing to do with any inherent problems on the part of the Haitians themselves. Quite to the contrary, "Haiti's present is the product of its history: of the nation's founding by enslaved people who overthrew their masters and freed themselves; of the hostility that this revolution generated among the colonial powers surrounding the country."
One should bear in mind that for these ancient slaves to build the first independent black nation on earth could not by any means be a smoothly process. For decades, Dubois recalls, France refused to acknowledge Haiti's independence, and both Great Britain and United States followed France's lead. Haiti represented an imminent threat to these countries that wanted to show it is unlikely for a black nation to succeed. And, stubbornly unwilling to re-taste the cruel savor of slavery, Haiti devoted its utmost to defend itself against potential attack. They hence poured lots of monies into building fortifications and maintaining a large army. "Being Haiti," Dubois suggests, "it turned out, was costly." Pressured by France, they finally agreed to pay an incredible amount of indemnity to compensate the slave-owners for their losses, and "by 1898, fully half of Haitian government budget went to paying France and the French banks. By 1914, that proportion had climbed to 80 percent."
Dubois, however, is not a conspiracy theorist. He does not believe that Haiti's predicament stems exclusively from outside. He asserts: "Haiti's current situation is the culmination of a long set of historical choices that date back to its beginning as a French plantation colony. And it is the consequences of the ways that powerful political leaders and institutions, inside and outside of the country, have ignored and suppressed the aspirations of the majority."
And Dubois is not alone. Analyzing the failure of Western pundits to come to grips with the problems of many developing countries, Hernando De Soto argues: "the suggestion that it is culture that explains the success of such diverse places as Japan, Switzerland, and California, and culture again that explains the relative poverty of such equally diverse places as Estonia...[Haiti, I add this], and Baja California, is worse than inhumane; it is unconvincing." And I agree...
For both native Haitians living abroad and foreigners who are interested in having a better picture (not a distorted snapshot) of Haiti, I can't suggest you a better book than Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by Laurent Dubois.
 See Harrison, L., & Huntington, S. 2000. Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, p. xv.
 See Harrison, L. 1985. Underdevelopment is a State of Mind, p. 84.
 Dubois, L., 2012. Haiti: The Aftershock of History, p. 4
 p. 5
 p. 8
 p. 369
 De Soto, H. 2000. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, p. 4