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The Rainy Season

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In the tradition of Joan Didion and Paul Theroux, this highly acclaimed writer/reporter offers a vivid portrait of today's Haiti--where during the day the streets are filled with bustling markets while at night they are filled with gunfire.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by Simon & Schuster (NYC) (first published 1989)
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With this sort of sociological book about a place with an interesting history, people and events, the author does a lot of research, both from media and in the field, and carefully looks at the facts and sees the bigger picture and that helps formulate what kind of book they are going to write. Each chapter then will be devoted to a certain aspect and sources, whether people, direct observation or media will be used to illustrate the author's point of view.

However, some authors have an agenda
Purple Iris
I randomly came across this in my aunt's library today, so I figured I'd skim through it and see what all the fuss was about. I'm not impressed so far, but I've only just begun. This could turn out to be an interesting portrait of foreign journalists in Haiti...

A couple of weeks later:

I finally decided on a rating. It was tough. This book is a good read in that it definitely kept me interested and has lots of behind the scenes info about the Haitian political scene. But so much of it annoyed me
Erik Graff
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
Shelves: history
Some years after graduating from Shimer College my youngest stepbrother, Erik Badger, got hired for an education project in Haiti on the recommendation of his undergraduate mentor. Knowing no Creole and facing the prospect of working primarily with the rural poor, his job began with months of total immersion, alone in a small village where no one spoke English. It worked and he went to work.

During most of the period Willentz writes about the official language of Haiti was French; the ruling
Excellent reportage from Haiti in the late 1980s--- from the fall of Baby Doc Duvalier through the failure of elections and military rule into the beginning of the '90s. Wilentz was close to the young Aristide before his two doomed presidencies, and her account of the young radical priest and his movement is fascinating, as is her account of the sheer mass of Haitian interests and foreign demands that crushed any hope of real reform when the Duvaliers fell. Fine writing and a good way of ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well written book about Haiti after the fall of Baby Doc up until the rise of Duvalier. Modern vignettes are interspersed with historical perspectives on Haiti.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: haiti
This book explores 3 important years in Haiti's history: 1987-89, when Duvalier left, military juntas seized control of the government, and Aristide started his rise to prominence.

Although the book was published before Aristide won the popular election in 1991 (and therefore misses the most important elements of Aristide's relationship with Haiti), it's still fascinating to read a before-he-was-famous account of such a significant and controversial figure. Wilentz's observations are often en
A wonderful and very informative book on Haiti. Captivating through an alternation of description and evocation, with occasional analysis. A bit romanticizing and slightly idealistic, pro-Aristide.
Aristide is the main character, his story coincides with that of Haiti itself, he is the key to understand the country. Also notable: the very crucial and mostly negative impact of American policy.
Spans about 3 years in Haiti during the late 1980's. The time just before Baby Doc was overthrown, to just before Aristide's first presidency and all the turmoil in between. A fascinating glimpse at a short period in Haiti's history, with loads of references to Haiti's entire history. It introduces the first time Haiti reader to a swath of information such as Tonton Macoutes, Dechoukaj, houngans, zombis, loup-garou, vaudou, clairin, restaveks, and plan meriken. The characters making repeat ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading some books about Haiti in preparation for a choir trip there in January. Nonfiction books generally aren't my cup of tea -- I'm really more of a narrative reader -- but it wouldn't be right for me to visit a country without knowing more about it.

This book is written by a journalist who spent time in Haiti over a number of years. She includes a great deal of history of the country as well as her personal experiences there. Some of the history parts were rather dense and I had to stop
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very slow reading. From responses from other readers may go back to it when I have time to read for a long period of time.
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fabulous on-the-ground, well-written account of Haiti from the fall of Baby Doc through a few turbulent years after. Wilentz covers her story from the found up, as opposed to being focused on interviewing / following wealthy / powerful people. She respects Haitians and provides many wonderful accounts of real, intelligent, poor people struggling through adversity and fighting for change. I have followed the Haitian struggle for democracy and was well-aware of Aristide, but this book provides ...more
Dennis Fischman
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Amy Wilentz writes about Haiti 1978-89 like a latter-day Charles Dickens, with dozens of major and minor characters and an eye for the broad sweep of society and history all at once. Only she is also versed in novels by Haitian authors, previous histories of the nation, folk sayings, voudoun, and the bad boy behavior of American reporters. There is nothing quite like this book.

Readers who never supported Aristide or who cannot forgive the violence carried out by some of his supporters will fault
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haiti
I really enjoyed Wilentz's account of Haiti back in the 80's. This book is very political in nature, since Wilentz was a journalist in Port-au-Prince for several years beginning after the fall of "Baby Doc" Duvalier. However she intersperses her work with stories of life and struggles in the countryside. Her work is wonderfully personalized with individual characters she has met, including a lot of interviews with a young Aristide. While not a complete history of the country, I thought it ...more
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wilentz's powers of perception and openness make this a must-read for anyone interested in Haiti, the post-colonial world, or journalism. But it's also a story about the effect of dystopia on a sensitive, first-world writer.
David Cerruti
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: An American journalist in Haiti
Shelves: history, haiti
The Rainy Season is being reissued next week by Simon & Schuster, with a new, post-earthquake introduction. For an understanding of the Haitian people, this book is excellent. A joy to read.
Chi Chi
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
A good and interesting read that is a journalistic acount of Wilentz's travels in Haiti in the late 1980s. It's a little long-winded, but I pretty much knew nothing of Haiti's history going into the book, and this definitely filled in some gaps.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. A good primer to begin to understand Haiti in particular and some of the concepts of US international aid in general. I can't wait to read Farewell Fred Voodoo.
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked the style of writing and the topic covered. I wish she would have written some kind of follow-up post-1989.
I read about a third of this one and really enjoyed it, but I spilled soup on it and probably won't finish the rest anytime soon. Maybe I'll come back to it, maybe not...
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you haven't spent time in Haiti, you'll like this book; if you have, you'll love it ...
May 15, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoir, haiti
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good picture of Haitian history from the post Duvalier to Aristide period. Country then was in a mess just as it is today. Nothing changes.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book.
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
weird...I got this book for Christmas and it was kind of random. But now with the earthquakes - it seems really relevant.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not what I would call neutral reporting - there's a definite political slant here. But still one of the best books I've read about Haiti's politics, by someone who really gets the culture.
Phillip Welshans
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Solid introduction to Haitian history between the ouster of Jean-Claude Duvalier and the overthrow of the military junta under Henry Namphy in 1989.
Adam Rust
rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2010
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Jul 22, 2012
Munene Njagi
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Apr 18, 2016
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Mar 25, 2015
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Amy Wilentz is the award-winning author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier; Martyrs’ Crossing, a novel about Jerusalem, and I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen: Coming to California in the Age of Schwarzenegger.

From 1995 through 1999, she was The New Yorker’s Jerusalem correspondent. She’s a contributing editor at The Nation magazine and teaches in the Literary Journalism