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Haiti: The Tumultuous History - From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation Paperback – September 14, 2010
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“An engaging and wonderfully readable account of the circumstances leading up to the U.S. invasion of Haiti in 1994, and its restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as Haitian president.” ―Elizabeth Abbott, Trinity College, University of Toronto on Clinton in Haiti
“This is an extraordinarily well written account that places Clinton's Haitian foreign policy in historical perspective. Linguistic wit and analytical sophistication prevail as Girard skillfully weaves readers through the complexities and tragedy of Haiti's history and the highly touted, but unsuccessful aftermath of the 1994 "invasion" by U.S. troops to restore Aristide and democracy to this Caribbean republic. Until Clinton administration classified documents become available this will remain the standard account and an object lesson for all future American cut-and-run attempts at peace-keeping and nation-building.” ―Joan Hoff, Montana State University, Bozeman on Clinton in Haiti
“Written by an outstanding young French scholar of recent American history, this examination of U.S. intervention in Haiti under Bill Clinton probes the motivations behind an unnecessary military action and explains the ways in which objective failure is translated into political success. The author's finely-calibrated sense of irony makes his work as entertaining as it is instructive.” ―Alonzo L. Hamby, Ohio University, and author of For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s, on Clinton in Haiti
About the Author
Philippe Girard is an Assistant Professor of Caribbean History, McNeese State University of Louisiana.
Top Customer Reviews
What I especially liked is that Philippe Girard refuses to get into the blame game with Haiti's woes. It is true that Haiti was exploited in its early history but so were many other nations and they are not in nearly the same shape as Haiti. According to Girard, Haiti's woes can be placed squarely on centuries of corrupt leaders who have seized power in this island nation and used their nation as their own personal piggy bank. The end results is a giant welfare state that depends on foreign aid to function. Girard doesn't sugarcoat the racism of America and the horror of the slave trade but neither does he allow these events to be an excuse for Haiti's deplorable conditions.
What was most interesting was Girard's conclusion. He asks the obvious question being asked by his primarily American audience: what should the U.S. do to help Haiti? His answer was surprising but dead on: as little as possible. Haiti needs to come into the world economy on its own. Free food helps feed people but it destroys Haiti's agricultural sector.Read more ›
Haiti was born in blood and violence plagued by people in power who tried to bring order to the nation only to replicate many of the injustices conceived by the French. Look at any oppressed people, when they come to power, due to the psychological damage, many impose the same conditions onto other as were imposed on them, i.e. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, newly freed slaves that enslaved the native population of what was to become Liberia, Eastern Europeans looking down on other Eastern Europeans, etc.
What bothered me the most was how Mr. Girard starts the book with an assertive statement that Haitians are responsible for their own destiny. While that may be true and he DOES present the many obstacles that were put in front of Haiti (imperialism, colonialism, corruption and unfair trade agreements) he doesn't bring them into account in his OWN interpretation of the history and how these external factors contributed to the country's progress or lack-there-of. It's a good read but cold, removed and detached. Don't rely solely on THIS volume for ALL of your information on Haiti. It's important to read Farmer's books as well as Amy Wilentz (I'm not sure of any Haitian historians as of now that I may recommend but I would love to see their perspective) as well as Edwidge Danticatt's writing (fiction but it will give you an emotional connection to Haiti).
1) Phillip Girard has an impressive résumé and his book offers keen insights into Haiti's current condition. The book succinctly and eloquently presents the issues and challenges facing Haiti today from a unique and modern perspective.
2) This is a book about recent events in Haiti's history (roughly the last 50 years). I would not characterize this book as a History of Haiti. Relatively little coverage is given to the events resulting in Haiti's independence. The book's treatment of Toussaint L'Ouverture, for example is pedestrian at best, in my view. He is relegated to a few pages in Chapter 2 (less than 10 out of 233) - despite the author's claim that Toussaint is "arguably, the most notable black individual in world history". He probably is - just not in this book.
3) Phillip Girard is NOT Haitian. While his efforts in this book are valuable and need to be applauded, the book has its limitations. If someone else writes your own history, it probably will be somewhat skewed. This is a foreigner's take on Haiti - which is fine - just keep this in mind as you read.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in Haiti. It is well worth the price.
Girard's book has provided a helpful basic history of Haiti and with that has shed some light for me on some of the racial dynamics that have influenced Haiti from the very beginning of the revolution until now. His book immediately awakens the reader to the fact that the situation in Haiti is complex. I like the fact that he is honest and frank in pointing out where he feels there have been and still are problems and as painful as it may be for some to accept I think he is for the most part on the right track.
He addresses the question that everyone asks about Haiti, "Why is Haiti the way it is after 200 plus years!" He shares the frustration that all of us who have been involved with Haiti have experienced as we observe the miserable conditions which seem to change little over time and he offers some thoughtful suggestions on what can be done (or not done) in order for Haiti to one day improve.
I had a hard time putting the book down once I got a hold of it and I do recommend it to anyone with an interest in Haiti.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a scary place. The information about Haiti's history high lights what a poor job the press, and our government, does in keeping us in the know.Published 2 months ago by Doc St. Maarten
A good read - covers a lot of history without grinding ideological axesPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Before I begin this review, let me say this book had potential. It is informative regarding Haitian history from European discovery of the island to the present day. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Phil Historian
I learned SO MUCH from this book. I've traveled to Haiti and it's enlightening to get some idea of how it came to be the way it is.Published 10 months ago by Nila Novotny MD
Don't travel to Haiti before reading this book...it makes so much of what you will see there make sense and give you greater empathy for a country with a history of turmoil and... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Heather R Nelson
Philippe Girard's book navigates the tumultous history of Haiti with considerable skill. From the very beginning it becomes evident that he does this not in order to present a... Read morePublished 18 months ago by gwaan
Was given as a gift, but my mom really enjoyed it.
Advised historical timeline though harsh was accurate. Girard holds no punches.
A must read for everyone curious about the conflicted people of Haiti!Published 22 months ago by mimi10