Books to Get You Thinking

The morning of January 10th 2010 dawned just like any other day but in just a few short hours the world was about to witness the horrors of a natural calamity that would destroy the fabric of an entire country. An earthquake that measured 7. 0 on the Richter scale struck the Haitian capital of Port-au- Prince, bringing death and widespread destruction to a country that was already amongst the world’s poorest. The eyes of the world have been focused on the horrors and the devastation that has followed the earthquake and foreign aid from all corners of the world has been pouring into Haiti. As the challenging task of rebuilding a broken and shattered nation looms ahead, a myriad questions arise about Haiti- the country, its people, its traditions and culture, its government and history. MCL has a rich collection of books covering the different faces and facets of Haiti for you to check out:

Haiti: Politics, Government and History
The Uses of Haiti
by Paul Farmer - A physician and professor at Harvard critically examines the role of US policies in the political and economic crisis that envelopes Haiti.

An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President by Randall Robinson - A personal analysis by the author of the reasons behind Haiti’s persistent poverty.

Haiti: the Duvaliers and their Legacy by Elizabeth Abbott - Based on interviews with many officials and intellectuals, the book is a telling account of Haiti during the period 1957-1988.

The Rainy Season: Haiti since Duvalier by Amy Wilentz - A journalist for Time magazine, the author gives a gripping account of the chaos and violence that followed the exile of Duvalier in 1986.

The Immaculate Invasion by Bob Shacochis - A fascinating chronicle of America’s 1994 peacekeeping mission in Haiti that includes interviews with commanding officers and a firsthand account of government atrocities and Haiti’s crushing poverty.

Written in blood: the Story of the Haitian People, 1492-1971 by Robert Heinl - A comprehensive account of Haiti’s long troubled history of violence and impoverishment.

Haiti; the Politics of Squalor by Robert Rotberg - This book about the history of Haiti includes economic data that is integrated with the political commentary.

Night of Fire: the Black Napoleon and the Battle for Haiti by Martin Ros - A fascinating story of Toussaint Louverture, Haiti’s famous leader who led the slave revolt of 1791, as well as the socio political forces that led up to the revolt.

Social life and Customs

Culture and Customs of Haiti by Michael Dash - A vivid picture that looks at Haiti, its people, its customs against the backdrop of its complex history.

Vodou Shaman: the Haitian Way of Healing and Power by Ross Heaven - Insights into the Haitian spiritual and religious practices and beliefs that break the often stereo typical images of Vodou.

After the Dance: a Walk through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti by Edwidge Danticat - A Haitian author returns from the US to participate in the Carnival, one of the most important festivals of Haiti. Through her eyes we see the cultural, economic and political facets of this unique island country.

The Best Nightmare on Earth: a Life in Haiti by Herbert Gold - An author’s firsthand account of life in Haiti that also spans the role of foreign intervention and aid in determining the socio political landscape of the country.

Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance by Beverly Bell - A deeply moving and inspiring work that presents the voices of a group of Haitian women from all walks of life held together by common threads of suffering, pain, oppression and exploitation in a country torn by violence and poverty.

A Taste of Haiti by Mirta Yurnet-Thomas - A collection of recipes from Haiti that give you an insight into the culture, foods and festivals of its people.

Music and Language

Rough Guide to the Music of Haiti compiled by Andy Kershaw - A collection of popular songs from Haiti sung in French and Spanish by various performers .

Haitian Creole - a set of five compact discs that include ten lessons in the grammar and vocabulary of the Creole dialect.

The Drum and the Hoe; Life and Lore of the Haitian people by Harold Courlander - The book includes both Haitian folk lore and folk songs with musical notations of 186 songs and drum rhythms.

Haiti: A Photographic Exploration

Dancing on Fire: Photographs from Haiti by Maggie Steber - A visual journey into Haiti’s turbulent history with color photos that document the pain, the brutality and the hope of its people.

- Nita Mathur


  1. Of historical interest -- You can see a clip of Toussaint's last moments in prison from the award-winning new short film "The Last Days of Toussaint L'Ouverture" at This film is the basis for a new feature (not with Danny Glover) that is in development.


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