Haiti After the Earthquake

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jul. 2011. c.464p. ed. by Abbey Gardner & Cassia Van Der Hoof Holstein. photogs. index. ISBN 9781586489731. $27.99. INT AFFAIRS
On January 12, 2010, the whole world witnessed the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti and the devastation that followed. Having worked in Haiti for almost 30 years, Farmer (UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti; global health & social medicine, Harvard) draws on his vast experience to explain what he calls the "acute on chronic problem" that exists in the aftermath of the quake. He recounts the chronic problems caused by Haiti's history of colonial rule, damaging foreign and domestic economic policies, and the resulting abundance of well-meaning but dysfunctional humanitarian aid. Farmer does not deny the horror of the earthquake, but he pushes for closer examination of the problems in Haiti that made this natural disaster so destructive and the efforts to help its citizens extremely difficult. He argues for a more progressive rebuilding plan in Haiti to "build back better." Also included are essays from earthquake survivors, doctors, and other volunteers, which lend a more personal tone to the book.
VERDICT Farmer demonstrates his deep love for Haiti while at the same time pushing for the drastic foreign and domestic reforms needed to rebuild this troubled nation. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about the history of, and recovery efforts in, Haiti.

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