Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, Laurent Dubois, Metropolitan Books, 2012, 418 pp.
Reviewed by Roger Annis
(This review was originally published in the International Socialist Review, March 2012, under the title 'Haiti from independence to occupation'.)
The Haitian people have been at the forefront of many of the events that shaped the modern world. They staged the first and only successful revolution against slavery, intersected with a profound agrarian reform. They faced down the barbarity of the U.S. military occupation of 1915-34 and ultimately drove the occupiers out.
The worker/student/peasant uprising of 1946 against President Élie Lescot was the first successful overthrow of a U.S.-backed regime in the Americas. The popular mobilization of 1986-90 that culminated in Jean-Bertrand Aristide's first election to the presidency in September, 1990 was the first to frustrate the strategy of U.S. imperialism in the 1980s of promoting ‘democracy’ in the form of sham elections while dangling the bait of foreign aid.
Haitians have suffered mightily for repeatedly defying and defeating the imperial order. As if that were not enough, they suffered a new and unbelievable tragedy with the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
Author and historian Laurent Dubois reviews this rebellious and often tragic history in his fascinating and engaging new book, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. He seeks to illuminate and explain Haiti's coup-scarred history, and in particular shed more light on the origins of what another author, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, has termed its ‘predatory state.’
The evident weakness of the Haitian state that so troubled many in the world in the days and weeks following the earthquake is largely a consequence of the incessant interventions of the world's big powers. Dubois describes this in much detail. Born into a world dominated by slavery, Haiti was shunned by all the wealthy countries…