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Haiti: After the Earthquake

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,071 ratings  ·  125 reviews
On January 12, 2010 a massive earthquake laid waste to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Within three days, Dr. Paul Farmer arrived in the Haitian capital, along with a team of volunteers, to lend his services to the injured.In this vivid narrative, Farmer describes the incredible suffering--and resilience--that he encountered in Haiti. Having ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by PublicAffairs
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 ·  1,071 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was part of my preparation for a January trip to Haiti. The first part of the book is Paul Farmer's account of why the devastation in Haiti was so great. Port Au Prince was destroyed by the earthquake because of the inadequate construction of almost all of the buildings and homes. Only a small percentage are built according to acceptable standards. As a comparison, Chile had an 8.8 magnitude earthquake (one of the largest in history) a month later with less then 600 deaths. The ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best way to read this book:
If you are not familiar with Haitian history, read Chapter 4 first, then jump to the Other Voices Section. After that, go back to beginning and read from Chapter 1 on.
If you are familiar with Haitian history, read the Other Voices Section first, then go to the beginning.

What I learned by reading this book:
NGOs operate a lot like family members when you need help. Some relatives will show up to help and do actually help some, but also decide that your kitchen is not
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for those interested in Partners in Health and/or Haiti. Paul Farmer's style of writing is so eloquent and accessible. His honesty is sincere and despite the overwhelming sorrow evident, there always seemed to be an underlying sense of hope. He provided a fantastic summary of the history of Haiti and how it connected to the aftermath of the earthquake. Additionally, his connections to Rwanda were interesting and well written. 100% recommended to all! ...more
Larry Bassett
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The focal point of this book is the January 12, 2010 7.0 earthquake that occurred with an epicenter in Port-au-Prince Haiti the country's largest city of 3 million people. A quarter of 1 million people were killed and over 300,000 injured. Well over 1 million were homeless. Two years later there was still rubble and camps of homeless.

The author James Farmer is a doctor Who specializes in infectious disease. He is also one of the founding members of partners in health and international organizati
Jul 13, 2011 added it
I am actually currently reading this, but having spent 4 months as a disaster relief worker in Haiti and having been in the center of the cholera outbreak, this book speaks so much to my experience in Haiti it already puts me in tears. Real review to follow.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book at all. It isn't at all insightful. The idea that Haiti, an impoverished country, has less than stellar building codes- is not news. The book is mostly dedicated to political rhetoric, and the logistics of planning meetings to discuss what might be done- not what is actually happening on the ground, which as far as I can tell is very little, nor does the book adequately explain why that is the case- expect maybe that everyone is knee deep in planning and consulting and ot ...more
Florence Millo
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I wish I had read this book from back to front. Paul Farmer writes the first 2/3 of the book and it is like plowing through 200 pages of acknowledgements and personal itinerary. Everybody gets acknowledged and their role documented and every meeting duly noted. By contrast, the last 1/3 of the book is first person accounts which are riveting. If you read this book, start at the back.
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Dr Paul Farmer is a modern day saint, in my books. However he wrote this book to get to market in a hurry while the topic was timely and it is annoyingly repetitive, needlessly long. The information could have been stated in half the space. In spite of this I will support him and others who fight the politics of poverty.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Incredibly dry and hard to concentrate on the audio version, even when Meryl Streep was narrating. I wish I could have felt more engaged because it’s such a fascinating topic.
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s crazy to me that the tremendous human suffering that followed Haiti’s earthquake happened while I was in high school, and yet I was only vaguely aware of it. This is an interesting book because it was published so soon after the earthquake, still early in the recovery process. Like any Paul Farmer book, I appreciate his frank analysis. He discusses how the global disaster response community, like the global health experts, has been socialized for scarcity. If anyone knows that the “global r ...more
3.5 stars. I have admired Paul Farmer and his global health work since I learned about him in "Mountains Beyond Mountains." This book encompasses the history of Haiti, the effects of the 2010 earthquake, the humanitarian work there, and their plan on how to "build back better." He truly has a wealth of knowledge on Haiti and a better way to help (like...include Haitians in the plan, because they actually know what is best for their country, woman should play a major role in the reconstruction, a ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I read this to fulfill a challenge in the Book Riot 2020 Read Harder Challenge. This was just ok. It was written with a heavy epidemiological perspective, which makes sense given the author is a medical doctor and global health expert. But I was hoping for more accounts of experiences on the ground and life in Haiti, and less perspectives on how global health initiatives are put in place. There was a lot of discussion about how professionals secure funding for disaster relief. This felt repetiti ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Much important information; but much of it belabored. This book could have been 1/4 to 1/3 shorter.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Terrific. I'm going to teach with it. ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be heartbreaking and inspiring and informing in that it tackled the questions so many have of why after all the aid and money sent to Haiti after the earthquake, conditions are still terrible. I appreciated the fact that it was written in real time as events were happening and gave such a sense of the difficulties of coordinating the good will of so many people and organizations.

"It was, for all of us, an entirely unprecedented circumstance. We were never sure what to do an
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Farmer calls the situation in Haiti an "acute-on-chronic' event. In the years before the earthquake of 2010, Haiti had become a 'Republic of NGOs'. After the quake, the dysfunctional system of humanitarian aid has become yet another obstacle to Haiti's recovery and sovereignty.
The chronic condition: Haiti is a nation with a weak government, where infrastructure is practically non-existent, where the gap between rich and poor is so large that the majority are voiceless and they know it. Only
Wendy Hall
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not at all what I was looking for about the impact of the earthquake in Haiti. Perhaps I am just too simple-minded, but I was wanting to read about the changed lives, the individuals and families and how the earthquake impacted them. I was looking for personal accounts of hardship and restoration. I was ready for my heart to be broken and open to the ongoing plight of the people of Haiti. Instead, this was a politically-focused book. The entire first half was about the author's follow-up experie ...more
Tom Schulte
Farmer didn't ask for a single donation here, but I immediately gave money to Partners in Health ( after reading this book. The work detailing aid efforts and obstacles, successes and trials covers Haiti from storm-sodden to earthquake-racked. I have been a fan of Farmer's generosity and energy since reading Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. The analogies and relationship to Rwanda were particularly telling. The book is ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I have always respected Paul Farmer and his tireless, selfless medical work in Haiti since I first read about him in Tracy Kidder’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. So I was thrilled to receive an audio version of Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer from the publisher.

I have now learned, after listening to fourteen hours (yes, that’s fourteen hours!) of these CDs that just because you are a wonderful human being, you are not necessarily a wonderful writer. I learned more about Haiti that
Laura Andersen
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I lived in Haiti for a year in 1990. If England is the home of my heart, Haiti is the home of my soul. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health writes a brilliant book about not only the earthquake that killed more than a quarter million people, but provides pertinent background and serious ideas about rebuilding. Recommended for those interested in global health and growth.
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are so many reasons to admire Paul Farmer. But somebody else should do the writing/editing. Including other voices was a smart decision for this book, which frankly read like a therapeutic diary. This happened then this happened then this......
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
For a book about a catastrophe, and immense suffering and incredible generosity this book is strangely devoid of the human experience. It's more about policy (and lack thereof) than the mind-boggling experiences of hundreds of thousands of people. I have no doubt that this book is factually correct and will serve as an excellent resource for people wanting to learn about the nuts and bolts of Haiti before, during and after the earthquake but for those wanting to learn about the daily lives of so ...more
Erik Carlson
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m1-year
“In Haiti, in less than 30 minutes, an estimated 222,570 people died and an additional 300,572 were injured. This natural disaster may be the worst in recent history. The challenges ahead seem daunting, but we cannot escape one truth. The survivors of the quake deserve to have their country rebuilt as they dream it to be, not as it once was.”

A collection of insightful and heart wrenching reflections on a disaster of unimaginable proportions. A must read for all who are interested in Haiti, inter
Ramsey Carroll
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author is super smart. The actual book by the author is only half the book and half is the epilogue, where he includes a project called “Voices of the Lost” or something like that, or short takes and personal experiences of victims of the earthquake and others connects through family and friends. The first half is really great for understanding the earthquake and why it was devastating while the second half really drives the emotional impact.
Mollie Feltman
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am not in health care so I didn't get excited about the tasks related to the field. I wanted more from the author regarding historical context and social justice. The writing inspires vision for Haiti. The author makes himself clear in calling for support for the public sector and sovereignty of Haitians over the resources of their country. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A stunning account of the aftermath of the earthquake tends to get lost among the minutiae of reporting. As a result, Farmer's warmth is lost. The personal accounts from other authors were moving. The history included of Haiti is fascinating. While the book reads like more of an accounting to an agency, for those interested in public health and humanitarian aid, it is truly a gem. ...more
Really compelling read about disaster relief post Haiti's 2010 earthquake - not the best writing (written in the year right after the earthquake), so a bit wordy. But reflections from Paul Farmer about working with the UN, Clinton Foundation and various disaster relief orgs with lessons learned. And some essays from other people part of the relief effort. ...more
Kevin Coriolan
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book vividly describes, in particular, stories from the day and aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It also tells of the history, culture, and people of Haiti which allowed me a deeper insight into this tragic disaster. But my last impression is of hope and a call to action to the world to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Informative book about Haiti earthquake. I love Paul Farmer’s writings and all the things he does, but I really enjoyed the essays from different people at the end of the book about their experiences with the aftermath. The taxi essay is a reminder that often we need to set aside our personal plan to help and just do the needed thing.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Paul Farmer is not actually that skilled of an author, but the subject matter is intriguing, and he gives it a treatment that is very unexpected. He doesn't just tell what is going on at the surface, but the historical context of the challenges that are being faced now. There are some calls to action, some disappointments, and some victories. I recommend. ...more
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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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“Haiti was founderd by a righteous revolution in 1804 and became the first black republic. It was the first country to break the chains of slavery, the first to force Emperor Napoleon to retreat, and the only to aid Simón Bolívar in his struggle to liberate the indigenous people and slaves of Latin America from their colonial oppressors.” 12 likes
“I said, "Nég Mawon toujou kanpé!!" —the free man is still standing!! And she replied, powerfully. "Cheri, Nég Mawon p'ap jamn krazé" —my dear, the free man will never be broken.” 6 likes
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