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The Uses of Haiti

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  533 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The Uses of Haiti tells the truth about uncomfortable matters—uncomfortable, that is, for the structures of power and the doctrinal framework that protects them from scrutiny. It tells the truth about what has been happening in Haiti, and the US role in its bitter fate.—Noam Chomsky, from the introduction

In this third edition of the classic The Uses of Haiti, Paul Farmer l
Paperback, 475 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Common Courage Press (first published September 1st 1999)
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Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I remember reading about the kidnapping of democratically elected President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and feeling immense shame and anger at the US Government. I was angry and feeling shame at the government because they not only allowed this to take place--when at the time they were singing about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq--but also for being directly responsible in his overthrow via kidnapping the president from his country in order to allow former war criminals power ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Farmer here documents how the interests of the rich and powerful, including the U.S. Government, have maneuvered to keep Haiti's people weak and destitute throughout the history of the small nation. It's very difficult to read these things. I feel inside me this vast upwelling of rage at the injustice. Dr. Paul, to his credit, simply reports the situation, tells the tale, without any overt anger or outrage, just as an anthropologist reports his or her findings. Like all his books I've read s ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Madeleine by: Ellie
I read Mountains Beyond Mountains (which is a biography of Paul Farmer), and thought that Paul Farmer is to Haiti as Greg Mortenson is to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Wow, wrong. Not to dis Mortenson--he does great humanitarian work, and he seems to do it in a way that's respectful of the local communities he works with (this is rare, IMHO). But Farmer is something else entirely.

The thing with Mountains Beyond Mountains is that you can get through the whole book without getting a sense of how radic
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to BurgendyA by: No one did. I decided to pick it up after I finished another about Haiti.
Dr.Paul Farmer writes with a so much passion and precision of the deleterious effects of American policy on the lives of ordinary Haitians. The Uses of Haiti was the first book of Dr. Paul Farmer that I read and he definitely knows how to engage his readers with
insights, some of Haiti's history and works regarding its heavy plight.

I admit that this book had sad effects of poverty, lack of resources & injustice of Haiti. This non-fiction is truly an exceptional book. And I am glad that I've rea
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The title of the book is very appropriate. Haiti has had many uses: racist agendas to excuse gunboat diplomacy, trade embargos and non-recognition of its sovereign rights since independence in 1804, demonstration on how to pillage an economy, keeping people illiterate to serve as pawns in a bloody political game of the elite, maintaining consistent media propaganda during the cold war to paint an idyllic island during the dictatorship period and then as a hell hole after a popular democratic ele ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Great book. While the 'uses'analysis is still relevant, much of the events of this book happened ~20 years ago and only covers part of the Aristide story. Also, Farmer seems to revisit the same anecdotes in Pathologies of Power.
Tony Desantis
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The next time someone talks about what a horrible place Haiti is, direct them to this book. The USA has lots of blood on her hands, but it it especially true about Haiti.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent documentation of Haiti's history and the both overt and covert involvement of the West in particular the US. Though written about Haiti it is a good read for anyone interested in the US involvement in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
Nathan Marquard
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely essential profile of an often-overlooked Latin American state. My readings and classes largely left Haiti overlooked, but it is the purest example of on-going American neo-colonialism.
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
The U.S. bombing of Haitian civilians during our twenty-year military occupation of that country is only a sliver of the big story. And it’s not just ancient U.S. history; the undermining continued even through the 1990s and 2000s.

The best books end up revealing much more than their stated subject matter. Paul Farmer’s The Uses of Haiti at first appears to be just a powerful intro to two hundred years of how empires have devastated Haiti, but it also turns out to be a model of how U.S. foreign p
Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it
I read the last page of Farmer's "Infections and Inequalities", and immediately picked this one up. Farmer sets out to describe Haitian history and to answer the questions of why a country that's so fertile and is a republic almost as old as the United States can nonetheless be the poorest in the western hemisphere. His descriptions remind me a lot of Adam Hothchild's "King Leopold's Ghost", which does a thorough job of explaining how such a thing could also happen to the DRC, and how a country ...more
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in our interference in thrid world countries
Recommended to Elaine by: Don Zimmer, MD
What made this book amazing to me was learning the truth of how the US, France and England have interfered in the control of Haiti since 1850. How we have kept the poor subjugated and even more poor. "I feel sorry for our country if God is truly just." - Thomas Jefferson.

After reading this book, I felt angry and frustrated, but have since found an outlet for help for Haiti, even though it encompases only a small area.

I suggest reading Mountains Beyond Mountains for a great biography of a truly
May 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Starting from the colonial period - an era from which world powers have never truly allowed Haiti to escape - Farmer draws upon his first-hand experiences well in putting together a compelling narrative of historic and contemporary "uses" of Haiti. Little has indeed changed since the U.S. refused to recognize Haiti's independence for the better part of a century, fearful of the "threat of a bad example" - a self-governing nation of peoples of African descent, and one that has been continuously f ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Paul Farmer gives a very detailed history of Haiti from a political and a health standpoint. He really touches the history of this country and his writing style is easy to grasp. His section on Jean Bertrand Aristide was phenomenal and opened up my eyes to some of the atrocities that foreign governments and wealthy Haitians did to oust him. JBA is still the rightful president of this country. This is a great read for someone looking to complement Mountains Beyond Mountains
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get through this one, mostly because I wanted to retain every bit of information (an impossible task, given Haiti's insane political history). Not exactly uplifting, but important and well-written. I would certainly recommend to anyone looking to familiarize themselves with Haitian history and U.S./Haitian relations, two inextricable subjects.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was an in-depth analysis of the importance of structure, the arbitrariness on which its founded, and the lasting consequences of this. The introduction seemed a bit dramatic and conspiratorial to someone who was, as of yet, unfamiliar with the third world realities. The book was clear, easy to read, and interesting, for the actual content being intensely depressing.
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're going to read one book about Haiti, I would either read this book or "Goodbye Fred Voodoo". This book explains the US's role in the destruction of Haiti and how we keep invading and interfering with its development.
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's overwhelming to read instances of so many abuses inflicted upon your country, knowing that this is simply part of a much larger history that, gathering its strength, continues to bleed into the present.
Aug 29, 2007 marked it as to-read
I have heard that this book is a must read.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, haiti
Farmer challenges the deception and destruction by the West (the US and France in particular) of 200 years of independent Haiti.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Good history and analysis of the US involvement in Haiti since Haitian independence.
Brent Fernandez
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
great for understanding the history of haiti
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Excellent prep for my trip to Haiti in Feb. *#@*ing brutal history that every citizen of the US should know.
Mary Harley
didn't like this one nearly as much as Mountains Beyond Mountains - I was disappointed; I thought I would.
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating perspective on U.S. foreign policy relations towards Haiti, told by a physician that has spend years working as a physician there.
Thom Dunn
One wishes Paul Farmer were as fine a writer as he is a human being.
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book with the history of Haiti and it's problems.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
An incredible look into the history of international meddling in Haiti. This is a harrowing tale that left me questioning everything I thought I knew about Haiti.
Christopher Fisher
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
great background on how Haiti got to where she is today, decimated by an earthquake and already disappearing from the headlines
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very polemical but full of information and insights.
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Paul Farmer is Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School and Founding Director of Partners In Health. Among his books are Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues (1999), The Uses of Haiti (1994), and AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (1992). Farmer is the winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and the Margaret Mead Award for his contributions ...more

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