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Haiti: The Aftershocks of History

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  578 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A passionate and insightful account by a leading historian of Haiti that traces the sources of the country's devastating present back to its turbulent and traumatic history

Even before the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Metropolitan Books (first published April 12th 2011)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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J.M. Hushour
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dubois has given us a tight and tidy "popular" history of poor, maltreated Haiti. I put "popular" in quotes because what that means to me isn't so much that the average layperson will read this (they won't, but they could with ease), but rather that it is not abstruse, jargon-laden, and crotch-deep in elusive analyses. Instead, it is straightforward and poignant, with genuine sympathy.
That Haiti is a singularly misunderstood state is the core of this work. Dubois sifts through the shifty, histor
Michael Gerald
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Despite not having photographs, this book is an excellent reference on Haiti's history, culture, and political economy. Written not by a journalist but by an academic with a deep background on the country and honest about the role that Western colonial powers France and the US played in invading and exploiting Haiti, the book was written just in time to include a brief mention of the terrible earthquake that struck the country in 2010.

The book also dispels myths and stereotypes about Haiti, incl
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Indispensable for anyone seriously interested in Haiti, but also an engrossing. Laurent Dubois is a wonderful storyteller, bringing to life characters I knew little about, including Antenor Firmin, and humanizing figures who had become caricatures, like Henri Christophe. In Dubois' telling, Haiti has been a site of constant struggle; he doesn't answer whether and how its ends might be achieved.

Dubois also weaves in stories about people who have told stories about Haiti; he's ever alert to the w
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
I wanted to go to Haiti, one of the places that I thought of visiting during my gap year before going up to university. At school I read Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians, set in the Haiti of Papa Doc Duvalier, horrible and fascinating at one and the same time. Add to that my discoveries about Vodou and my subsequent reading into Haiti’s past then the magnetism became compelling. But I was warned against going; it was too dangerous, the place was too unsettled, there were too many risks. I wen ...more
Rosenita Delva
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book will stay with me for a long time.
Carolyn Harris
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I have read a number of histories of the Haitian Revolution (including Avengers of the New World by this same author) but I was less familiar with more modern Haitian history and this book provided valuable analysis of the past 200 years of Haitian history. Dubois discusses Haitian intellectuals and writers as well as the political history and economy. There is strong analysis of the lasting negative impact of the early 20th century American occupation and the 19th century indemnity imposed by F ...more
Jul 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Considering this covers 200 years of history, this is an incredibly readable primer on Haiti from the Revolution to the present. I came out of it with a much greater understanding of why Haitian history has unfolded the way that it has, and the ways in which the U.S. and European countries have actively encouraged the worst of it. However, the agency and goals of the Haitian people are of foremost interest to the author. Not a casual read, but you don't have to be an expert in the subject to get ...more
Porter Sprigg
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
This book is an excellent depiction of Haiti’s story. It’s a biography of the nation that taught me a lot.
Stanley Fritz
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this!

Wow, I absolutely Couldn’t put this book down at all, amazing! If you love history and want to understand revolutions this is the book for you
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating yet frustrating book about the history of the Republic of Haiti. Written by a scholar of the French Caribbean who teaches at Duke, "Haiti: The Aftershocks of History" strives to trace three interlocking streams of modern Haitian history: 1) the country's origins as the product of a successful slave revolt (circa 1800); 2) the hostile reaction that the revolt triggered in the larger world; and 3) the internal struggle of Haitians to realize the goals of the revolution.

Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: libs-678
1. Dubois, Laurent. Haiti: the aftershocks of history. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012. Print.

2. 0805093354 $21.18

3. Review: "HAITI The Aftershocks Of History." Kirkus Reviews (2012): 12. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 July 2013.

4. VASOL EPF.1 a-f, WHII.7 a-d

5. This non-fiction history traces the history of Haiti from 1804 (the revolution) to 1963 (Papa Doc). Dubois traces Haiti’s current difficulties back through history and places a chunk of blame for Haiti’s current difficulties on inter
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it
There is a lot to get out of the story of Haiti. Its a nonstop story of sadness. And this book pretty much hits all that. My issue with it was that it's geared way too much towards ancient history. Far too much of the book is focused on the period of history dating back to the 1600's. The worst of course started with the French. They raped they country for all they could and only gave up control of the colony reluctantly. To make things worse, the French then insisted that Haiti pay reparations ...more
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: haiti
A good overall history of Haiti - starting from way back in the colonial period and taking you all the way through the quake, albeit with most detail focused early on. I enjoyed the focus on the earlier periods, since many other books deal more with recent political events. I also enjoyed the author's incorporation of Haitian writings and speeches, which left me feeling that if I wanted to explore a particular period further I had options. I did find that some era were treated in perhaps more de ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: haiti
This is the second Haiti related book I've read by Dubois, the first one being "Avengers of the New World." I highly dislike both. Dubois get way to into the minutiae of his story and loses the big picture argument. In Aftershocks, he spent so much time pouring over every detail of every terrible president in Haiti from 1805-1930 that he completely rushes through the Duvalier and Aristide eras. The epilogue seemed contrived and rushed because of this.

Also - its clear that Dubois leans a very par
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was long intrigued by the history of Haiti– the first black republic. It's a saddening story full of broken promises, overconfident hopes, and treachery in its leaders. Dubois explains the history very well in a way that is entertaining and genuinely interesting. As some other reviewers have noted, I agree that he brushes over a lot of topics. Such as:
Dessalines' Genocide
Faustin Soulouque
Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier
Arisitide to 2010

Dubois also tries to historically paint Haitian peasants in
Wendy G
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this history of Haiti. It isn't exhaustive, it's mostly summary, but I think he hits the important events of this tumultuous place. I found the author's treatment of the 20-year horrendous American occupation to be fair and accurate, and I wish more people knew about the atrocities committed upon the Haitian people by the US government and Marines. However, I didn't think the author did justice to the Duvalier dictators (father and son), especially to 'Baby Doc.' I also felt that the l ...more
Kyle Magin
This covers some really important and frustrating history. I had no idea about the extent of the US occupation of Haiti or the damage it caused.

The read is dense, though, and the pace is pretty uneven. I prefer a history that tells the story of the human characters and their motivations with a little more depth than just listing out their actions.
From my years of teaching world history core classes to undergraduates, I know that teaching the Haitian Revolution is de rigueur… but after 1804, Haiti disappears from the syllabus. It was in part to correct this that I picked this book up- it even echoes my teaching experience, where I had read Dubois’s book on the Haitian Revolution first years ago before picking this volume up to read.

Maybe people avoid post-revolutionary Haitian history because it is a stone cold bummer. The country never t
Sara Fischer
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book examines the political and economic history of Haiti, from revolution and independence through Lavalas, focusing on forms of government, leaders, and global economic ties. In the revolutionary period and just after, Dubois shows Haitian leaders struggling between an export economy which required the maintenance of the plantation system, and a life of personal liberty, allowing residents to raise crops and livestock for their own families and for market trade. Haitian leaders, who tende ...more
Jason Hoople
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Though this may seem like an obvious statement, I liked that the structure of this book was in chronological order of the country. Other nonfiction accounts I have read do not necessarily follow that structure, often leaving me frustrated.

There is a lot of information and a large number of names to keep track of, which is good in terms of thoroughness, but it does take a lot of focus to read.

In terms of historical content, my one complaint is the lack of context with more modern times issues in
Arthur (Arby) Segismundo
Understanding the twists, turns, and influences of the history of any people is fundamental to understanding their current position, status, or culture.

Haiti is a deeply stigmatized country repeatedly influenced time and time again by malicious foreign powers (yes, the US) and authoritative domestic elite regimes.

In contrast to previous critiques of the book, I think that Dubois is offering the idea that Haiti has been influenced by negative powers, that much is obvious. But it is the resilienc
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this book, Laurent Dubois provides a fluid, effective, and concise history of Haiti's complex past. Prior to reading the book, I had knowledge of Haiti roughly equivalent to the average person: the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the only country to successfully stem from a slave revolt, and a country with a devastating history of poverty and corruption. However, Dubois's work helped me to gather a much more fluent understanding of Haiti's history. The interplay of political, econo ...more
B Sarv
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a comprehensive look at Haitian history. What stood out the most was the continued promotion of heinous anti-democratic conduct by, you guessed it, the alleged greatest democracy in the world.

During the occupation of Haiti these alleged paragons of democracy employed every crime from murder, theft, rape, assault, fraud, intimidation, and extortion to accomplish its undemocratic goals of oppression and imperialism. It even awarded the Medal of Honor to participants in a lop-sided ma
Moses Hetfield
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was an excellent introduction to Haitian history for me. The writing is clear and engaging, and while Dubois focuses on political history, he also incorporates a lot of social history into his writing for a fairly comprehensive perspective overall, although I would have liked it to be a bit less male-centric. Dubois' writing historical narrative comes across as a well-balanced one, discussing his subjects in a nuanced manner. Dubois goes into a fair amount of depth from Haitian indepen ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book gave me a good primer on Haitian history. Here are some important takeaways for me.
1. The nature and aftermath of the slave rebellion. There were slaves and free blacks who participated. They were not all equal and had different goals from overthrowing the white French planters.
2. The recurring nature of revolution throughout its history. Someone promises a more democratic or republican approach to government but ends up becoming a strong man. Soon, people revolt against this dictator
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
An amazingly important & little known land of liberty, the site of history's only successful slave revolution. For most of Haiti's history, the central government sought to promulgate the policies which came from the days of enslavement promoting an export-based, plantation agricultural economy which was incompatible with a free labor force. As long as the central government was weak & unstable, the policy failed & the majority rural population was able to go its own way while providing its own ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical account, from the times of the french colony and revolution, to the USA occupation, to the end of the Duvaliers dictatorship. A very accesible read, the text uncovers events that seem unbelievable. Events that as one turns the pages, leave the reader astonished at how a country has fought for its ideals against internal forces but especially against external actors that until today continue meddling in Haiti’s affairs, sometimes with good intentions but more often in patroni ...more
Apr 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Clear and concise. Good overview of Haiti's history. Gives a balanced account. Does not get to plagued down in a melancholic anti-American attitude, but is consistent with rebuffing most stereotypes, assumptions etc. about Haitian people and culture with a fair assessment. Touches on the importance of the French indemnity controversy, which I've found other Haitian history books tend to overlook despite it being a major source in Haitis unfortunate debt cycle and the reason for French ownership ...more
Frederic Bontemps
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very complete story on military control of Haiti. Puts context on the turnover of the political leadership and the appeasement of military officers throughout history. A referendum on a cashless society ruled by regional committees (my words). The only source is reliable income for the central government is import duties; the results of trading partners actions on an agricultural society.....
Fred Heppding
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think anyone interested in America Foreign Policy as it relates to the Caribbean should read this work.
The section on American occupation in the early 20th Century is particularly eye opening.
This is primarily a work on the history of Haiti but the role of the U.S. in that history was very significant.
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Laurent Dubois (PhD. University of Michigan) is associate professor of history at Michigan State University. His book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 won the American Historical Association Prize in Atlantic History and the John Edwin Fagg Award. He is also the author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, which ...more

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