Several friends have asked me for recommendations on books about Haiti. The following are books that I have read and would recommend. I have divided them into four categories (fiction, non-fiction, dubious but interesting, and coffee table books). I thought about leaving out entirely the books that I consider a bit dubious, but the all have facinating information. (Note all links are amazon affiliate links)
The Comedians by Graham Greene: Classics just never go out of date. This is still a great book about Haiti.
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende: a moving portrayal of the Haitian revolution told from the point of view of a slave, her owner, and people both sympathetic to the revolutions and fighting against it. Note that the second half of the book takes place in New Orleans.
The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat: the story of the massacre of Haitians in the Dominican borderlands in 1939.
Breath, Eyes, Memory also by Edwidge Danticat: fictionalized story of growing up in Haiti.
Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti by Michael Deibert and Raoul Peck: a great overview of the collapse of the second Aristide government.
Rainy Season: Haiti-Then and Now by Amy Wilentz: a fascinating look into Aristide's role in the downfall of the Duvalier Government. It was written before Aristide's government collapsed and does not look into the darker side of what later happened.
The Immaculate Invasion by Bob Shacochis: the story of the 1994 US occupation told by an embedded reporter. This nicely brings out the rambling, lack of focus that characterized the occupation.
Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American ;the autobiography of Jean-Robert Cade. Tells the story of the abuses that he faced as a child slave in Haiti. Knowing how many kids never escape form this fate makes it a painful read.
Mountains beyond Mountains : Tracy Kidder the fascinating story of Dr. Paul Farmer and the start of Partners in Health.
Dubious facts, but interesting reads
Anything by Paul Farmer: Dr. farmer is a hero for the work that he has done in Haiti and around the world. In his books, he plays fast and free with the facts to back up his own point of view.
The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic by Wade Davis: A supposedly scientific investigation into voodoo. I don’t believe the insights into how voodoo works, but it does have good insights into Haitian rural life.
Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola by Michele Wucker: provides a great, east to read overview of the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, the central thesis that the island is too small to allow for strong presidents to govern in both countries doesn't really hold up.
Coffee Table/gift books
Paroles et Lumieres-Where Light Speaks: Haiti (English and French Edition), by Hiebert; Phelps; Yates; Cav: A beautiful look at Haiti by two people who love it well.
Hispaniola: A Photographic Journey through Island Biodiversity by Eladio Fernández: A beautiful catalog of the animals on both sides of the island.
What other books would you recommend on Haiti?