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Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola
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Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  256 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Like two roosters in a fighting arena, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are encircled by barriers of geography and poverty. They co-inhabit the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but their histories are as deeply divided as their cultures: one French-speaking and black, one Spanish-speaking and mulatto. Yet, despite their antagonism, the two countries share a national symbol ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published April 3rd 2000 by Hill and Wang (first published 1999)
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Purple Iris
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-politics
I have been looking forward to getting my hands on this book for years. It's cited a lot and I am fascinated by Haiti/DR relations. But, I've only gotten as far as the introductory notes and am already pissed off. The author explains that she pretty much spells things however she wants to, then says "Doubtless some Dominican and Haitian readers will disagree with some of the spelling choices; but the existence of the debate merely confirms the political power of language on Hispaniola". WTF? Um, ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: todos
Recommended to Ingrid by: Miguel Perez
Un libro fenomenal en enseña sin vergüenza la ignorancia con que Los Dominicanos se han criado. Digo yo porque hace unos anos me encontraba en esa ecuación. Lastimosamente todavía existe esa misma mentalidad en la Republica Dominicana. Una mentalidad que nos desvalorización como nación. Que nos hace mejor que ellos? Estar al otro lado del país? Nuestra Lengua? Nuestras Raíces? Nuestro Color? Que no todos somos iguales. Todos Somos Negros......
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Splendid overview of the complex, convoluted histories of the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Along the southern coast of the island of Hispaniola, in the Dominican Republic, one can still see the scars of a cataclysmic event in Earth's distant past; a vivid reminder of the large asteroid which collided with planet Earth 65 million years ago, leaving behind a vast impact crater whose outline is now part of Mexico's Yucatan coast. Nearly twenty years ago, Alan Hildebrand, a young Canadian geologist I
Sydney Elizabeth
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
While Wucker is thorough in her account of the political and economic turmoil of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, I felt this was a badly organized history. Very disappointing.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Best when telling history or describing people and situations the author clearly met and experienced. (Although these are predominantly Dominican, for a book that's supposed to be about both Dominicans and Haitians.) I didn't enjoy the book as much when the author spent large sections of an entire chapter waxing poetic on a metaphor, be it cockfighting during the first chapter or The Tempest during the last. These felt, to me, like the forced academic language that I had to read a lot of in coll ...more
Colin W boone
Interesting and informative but disjointed

I learned a great deal about the fractious, complicated history and cultures if the Dominican Republic and Haiti but was often frustrated by the authors’s disjointed jumping around in time and subject.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish it. Too disjointed.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
somewhat superficial
Lauren Coonen
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The two side of Hispaniola could not be more different. The Dominican side is Spanish speaking, generally lighter skinned, overwhelmingly Catholic, with a diverse economy and growing middle class. The Haitian side speaks Haitian-Kreyol, are proud of their African heritage, practice Vodou, and the country is the poorest in the Western hemisphere with poor desolate land that in many cases unsuitable for farming. The author describes the history of the island though a variety of lenses focusing on ...more
Rachel G.
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is one of the rare books in English (at least that I've found) that really gets to the heart of the DR-Haiti conflict and explains the historical background for the difficult relationship. It's also really interesting because even though it's been over 10 years since it was published, so much is still true. The attention to detail and the spot-on cultural and historical analysis is wonderufl. But ultimately, the author can't decide what she wants the book to be: a memoir of reporting i ...more
Christopher Rex
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
A must-read for anyone who lives in Hispaniola or plans to spend a significant amount of time there. The book tends to concentrate a bit more on the DR than Haiti (in my opinion), but is a very valuable insight to the history of the island - past and present. It starts to drag a little towards the end when it gets into the "modern" politics and those not familiar w/ the island's politics might get bogged down. But, overall a very good insight to a unique island and situation. Anyone interested i ...more
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm fairly certain this is the work of a first time author, and while I support her work on such a contentious (and hard to find information about) the struggle for Hispaniola, the book is somewhat difficult to read. The history of island isn't chronological; instead it is lain out in a series of summaries that relate to the story told pages before - so you are constantly playing this loop of catch up. If it was chronological I think I could have given it 4 stars and would have enjoyed the book ...more
Mar 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Wucker did a very interesting historical account of Hispaniola over the past 3 or 4 hundred years. I found the book very interesting pushed by the fact that our family spent the past 9 days in Dominican Republic. She textured their social, cultural and political life beautifully.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Reread portions of this enlightening book while down in the Dominican a couple of weeks ago. Anyone traveling to the island of Hispaniola -- whether to the DR or Haiti -- should pick this up for the essential historical insights it provides.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting rundown of the history of Hispaniola and some enlightenment on the conflict between Dominicans and Haitians. It is a little out dated and I would love to read more about the current political climate but this was great background.
Izetta Autumn
Jan 22, 2010 marked it as to-read
I'm not sure how I feel about the title of this one, but it comes highly we'll see....I guess....but still: that title. Problems.
Karen Davis
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent explication of the history behind the rift between th Dominican Republic & Haiti. ...more
Aug 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Caribbean studies
A good overview of the relationship (oftern expressed in perceived racial difference) between Haiti and the D.R.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Series of vignettes looking at the political and historical battles between Haiti and the DR. Good to understand some of the issues the two countries have today.
Paul Cumbo
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in the cultural history of Hispaniola, this is a must-read.
Greg D'Avis
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Very informative -- I learned a lot about a place I knew little about -- but the writing is over the top, and the book rambles and bounces around. Needed some strong editing that it didn't get.
Chelsea Robertson
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
if you have any interest in haiti and the dominican republic... this is teh best book I've every read analyzing the tumultuous relationships on the little hispanola island.
Jun 27, 2007 marked it as to-read
Reccomended to me by a classmate at Spanish Camp who takes a school group to the DR every year. SHe tought I'd enjoy reading it before we go, so I'm trying not to forget.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
this was hard to get through...i thought it was very dry.
A good historical analysis of the racial conflicts between Haitians and Dominicans. Essential reading for anyone going to work in the Dominican Republic.
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
My high interest level is due to the fact that I spent two years in the DR. Overall, a good book about the clash of many different cultures.
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Feb 28, 2009
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Feb 17, 2015
Monique Cormier
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Jun 21, 2020
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Mar 30, 2014
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Michele Wucker is the author of THE GRAY RHINO, LOCKOUT and of WHY THE COCKS FIGHT. She has been honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and as a Guggenheim Fellow.

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