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Big River Books
Powell's Bookstores, Chicago
It was no surprise to Amy Wilentz when Haiti emerged from the dust of the 2010 earthquake like a powerful spirit. Her book is about magical transformations. It is filled with raucous characters: human-rights reporters gone awry, movie stars turned into aid workers, musicians running for president, doctors turned into diplomats, a former U.S. president working as a house builder, street boys morphing into rock stars, and voodoo priests running elections.
Wilentz looks back and forward at the country: at its slave plantations, its unthinkable revolutionary history, its kick-up-the-dirt guerrilla movements, its troubled relationship to the U.S., the totalitarian dynasty that ruled for decades, as well as its creative culture, its ancient African traditions and attitudes, and its uncanny resilience.
Like Joan Didion's "Salvador "and Rory Stewart's "The Places in Between, "this book vividly portrays the people of a stark place. A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes, over time and in the pages of this book, a lover of this country, pursuing the heart and soul of this beautiful and confounding place into the darkest and brightest corners.
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