Overview of Latest Haiti Reading

Philippe Girard – Paradise Lost: Haiti’s Tumultuous Journey from Pearl of the Caribbean to Third World Hotspot

I found this book to be an excellent and very accessible overview of Haiti’s early and more recent history. Girard often interjects his own interpretation and commentary of the historical facts, which is both very helpful in thinking about how the circumstances and various happenings influenced subsequent history and at the same time somewhat constricting as it inhibits the reader from accomplishing his own interpretations and predictions. Girard is a very fluid writer and what could have been a very dry retelling of facts, dates, and people turns into a very engaging story about the very tumultuous journey of a country whose history remains an enigma to the majority of the world.

Ralph Pezzullo – Plunging into Haiti: Clinton, Aristide, and the Defeat of Diplomacy

This is a part of the Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Series which tells the stories of various diplomacy missions and the persons behind them. I greatly enjoyed this read, very easy read, very well written. The specific diplomatic exchange that Pezzullo seeks to describe surrounds the attempt to reinstate Aristide after his first expulsion from Haiti by Raul Cedras. I was a couple of chapters in before I realized that I was reading a historical account, perhaps it was the specific situation, perhaps the writing, but I laughed and gaped at the incredibility of the account; truth is truly stranger than fiction. The story was told by alternating chapters of the contemporary account of Aristide and Clinton and chapters telling the early history of Haiti. The early accounts were told with the same edge of the seat intense narration. My main criticism of this book was that it was written with a very clear objective and from a very closed perspective. Ralph Pezzullo is the book’s main character, Lawrence Pezzullo’s, son; a fact which may have limited the retelling of the story to inadvertently place Lawrence in a very unique position of making very few mistakes amidst a sea of inept cohorts. Criticism aside, this was my favorite of the books in this list.

Various – Open Gate: An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry

First off, I am very impressed by this idea and what it sets out to accomplish: the translation and collection of many of Haiti’s most beloved Creole poems. I’m not much of a poetry man, I’ve tried to be and I continue to attempt to expose myself to more and more poetry, but I continually find myself gravitating toward the comfort of prose. So I feel severely inadequate to review a collection of poetry. I have been attempting to progressively teach myself Haitian Creole through what happens to be the only library book on Haitian Creole (circa 1970’s) and various audio lessons (the only decent web source I could find was a geocities site which is now sadly no longer available due to the closing of geocities). I’ve found, albeit from the limited clout of my Creole, that the translations are quite superb. These poems are written by the people of Haiti and that places these accounts on a very interesting level. Seeing through the eyes of many of Haiti’s people is an invaluable resource.

Jeremy D. Popkin – Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection

This is a collection of many first-person narratives of the Haitian Revolution. I started reading this, made it through the introduction and start of the first account, and then picked up Paradise Lost and got caught up in that book. I’ll be revisiting this soon and will have a more complete review up in the near future.

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~ by veniatregnum on November 24, 2009.

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