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Haiti: The Tumultuous History - From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  117 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Why has Haiti been plagued by so many woes? Why have multiple U.S. efforts to create a stable democracy in Haiti failed so spectacularly? Philippe Girard answers these and other questions, examining how colonialism and slavery have left a legacy of racial tension, both within Haiti and internationally; Haitians remain deeply suspicious of white foriegners' motives, many of ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published December 11th 2005)
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Dec 05, 2012 Erik rated it really liked it
Girard has nailed it. If I were going to write a book on Haiti (where I have been resident for a year), this is what it would have looked like (in my imagination obviously; in reality it would have been nowhere near as good). This is part history, part socio-economic analysis, part advocacy. I suspect that many would charge, some Haitians in particular, that the narrative is too soft on the damaging effects of foreign intervention and I would sympathize with that view. However the political elit ...more
Mar 07, 2015 Shawn rated it liked it
I read this history in anticipation of a trip to Haiti this summer. Reading Haitian history is a foray into the fallibility of the human soul. Rectification of Haitian problems will require a change in the hearts of all those that reside in or deal with this troubled nation

Columbus & Spanish Domination

Christopher Columbus arrived on Haiti’s northern coast in 1492 and landed in a magnificent natural harbor that he named Mole Saint-Nicolas. From there, Columbus made his way East to the bay wh
Jul 03, 2011 Evamaria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Oh, my poor Ayiti Cheri - reading this comprehensive history of the nation, from its colonial past to its struggling present, made me want to cry several times. Girard explained many things I noticed during my two months volunteering and manages to do so very honestly but also with great affection and respect for Haiti's people.

When I try to tell people why Haiti is in such a bad state, that it's not as simple as saying "Slavery/Western imperialism/US interference did it", I always say that ever
A good, comprehensive yet brief, compendium of Haitian history, all the way from the country's discovery by Western imperial powers in the late 15th century to its struggle with poverty, corruption, and earthquake-related devastation today.

It's a very pleasant, quick read, written in a simple, journalistic-type prose, and through a character-driven narrative that makes this book a page-turner.

And it also has some very interesting, useful insights for someone who wants to try to understand Haiti
Feb 25, 2014 Kelly added it
As I stated in my review I submitted for class, this book is completely devoid of anything resembling good scholarship. This book should never be read by anyone. It is not even worth one star
Matthew Robertshaw
Despite his over-the-top insistence on free market capitalism as the solution to all of Haiti's woes, Girard provides a well-researched and accessible account of the country's rocky history. The strength of the work is its insight is on the post-Duvalier period and insistence that Haiti is not, ultimately, without hope. The work would have benefitted from more footnotes and a more balanced summary of the causes of Haiti's instability. He tends to see Haitian presidents as one-dimensional despots ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
mainstream reading and very liberal take on the history of Haiti. Haiti is much more conflicting and rebellious than the historian tries to depict.
Cary Lackey
Aug 20, 2015 Cary Lackey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent overview of a country that I visited as a child with my parents as tourists during the infamous reign of "Bebe Doc" Duvalier," that had a lasting impression on me. What was once the Pearl of the Caribbean and then a source of independent pride (the only country formed as a result of a slave revolt), devolved into a chaotic, mismanaged, poverty-stricken morass as the decades rolled by. I share the author Girard's sincere hope that Haiti can rise above the hurdles it faces and again b ...more
Stanley Cramer
Aug 09, 2015 Stanley Cramer rated it liked it
In-depth examination of the history of Haiti. A good number of opinions you may or may not agree with. While not overly technical it will take you a little time to get through.
Mar 16, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly readable, broad strokes history of Haiti. Exactly what I was looking for to put Aristide in context and learn a little more about this wretchedly poor country. The title seems quite appropriate. The author even details a sort of 'check list' to recovery, which is a reminder that change is possible if not easy. Well done.
Jan 01, 2014 Colleen rated it really liked it
Good overall primer on Haiti (although you kind of get the sense that Girard just really doesn't like Haiti at all. Maybe it's just me).
Jan 27, 2011 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly sad and frustrating history. Very worth the read if you plan to go on a missions or aid trip. The title is dead on about it being a tumultuous history filled with an unbelievable amount of internal and external destruction.
Apr 13, 2012 Danielle rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and felt that it is the book for anyone who wants to understand who Haiti used to be, who she is now, and why! It was extremely interesting and well written and I really enjoyed it!
An interesting and readable account of Haiti's history since colonization. The reason for my low rating is the author's pro-American slant, along with a lot of generalizations about both Haitians and Americans.
Pete van Genne
Apr 15, 2013 Pete van Genne rated it really liked it
A sobering read. Girard describes well the up and down history of this fascinating country, and sums it all up with his prescription for Haiti to turn herself around. I wish I could share his optimism!
A pretty good primer on Haiti's history. Need to take the author's very one-sided view -- that Haitians are at fault for everything -- with a pinch of salt. But accessible and very readable.
Dec 10, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been to Haiti twice and this filled in a lot of the social/political story that I did not know. It's rich with details. The only thing missing is the religious history.
Jul 21, 2013 Springer rated it really liked it
Excellent and thorough history of Haiti that seems to do a good job of presenting the Haitian and an outsiders point of view on things.
I liked the factual aspects of the book, but wish the author had kept more of his opinions to himself.
Sep 19, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
Very thorough and insightful description of Haiti's history and current problems.
Becca Christensen
Feb 07, 2012 Becca Christensen rated it liked it
Rich in history and useful in prep to visit. Also appealed to my 'social worker' side.
Dec 22, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good primer on the history of Haiti and why it is what it is today
Chris Cooper
Oct 24, 2013 Chris Cooper rated it it was amazing
Good, concise history of Haiti. Recommended!
Diana Calixte
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