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A passionate and insightful account that finds in Haiti's traumatic history the sources of its devastating present
Even before last year's 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 own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois demonstrates, Haiti's troubles owe more to a legacy of international punishment for the original sin of staging the only successful slave revolt in the world.
Dubois vividly depicts the isolation and impoverishment that followed the 1804 rebellion: the crushing indemnities imposed by the former French rulers, which initiated a cycle of debt; the multiple interventions by the U.S. armed forces, including a twenty-year occupation; and the internal divisions and political chaos that are the inevitable consequences of centuries of subversion. At the same time, he also explores Haiti's overlooked successes, as its revolution created a resilient culture insistent on autonomy and equality.
This is an indispensable book, revealing what lies behind the familiar moniker of "the poorest nation in the western hemisphere" and illuminating the foundations on which a new Haiti might yet emerge.
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