"The question has been asked innumerable times by journalists, politicians, aid workers and academics over the years: What’s wrong with Haiti? Why can’t a country that seems to have so much potential overcome its political instability and extreme poverty? Why don’t aid programs ever seem to have the intended results? Why is the country so vulnerable to disaster and turmoil?
Historian Laurent Dubois attempts to answer that question in Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by carefully detailing Haiti’s history, with particular emphasis on certain turns in the road that have left indelible marks on the island nation often referred to as the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, “a moniker...
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What We Find Gross, and Why
By ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG
Published: January 20, 2012
"Did you hear the one about the Texan at his first Passover Seder? He was mightily impressed with the soup. “These matzo balls sure are delicious, ma’am,” he told his hostess. “What other parts of the matzo do y’all cook with?”
This old joke came to mind as I read “That’s Disgusting,” a lively look at all things revolting by Rachel Herz, a psychologist at Brown. I thought of it as Herz described an evening with friends at a pretentious restaurant, where she ordered the appetizer special, duck oysters. It turned out “oysters” was code for “testicles” — how come her dinner companions hadn’t warned her? — and once she knew that, she lost her appetite for the small bulb-shaped...
Mining the past
Historian looks back for fresh perspectives in confronting the questions of Haiti.
BY SUSANNAH NESMITH
Brief Story, Book Proposal, a Longer Feature, Then a Book
‘… it would be a while before people would say, “Hey, this is a book.” ’
"There is nothing normal about my journalism career—I landed my first newspaper job at 42—or my book-writing career. In a former long-ago life as a sports reporter, I coauthored a golf book/memoir for a woman on the professional tour and it hit the remainder bin faster than a two-foot gimme hits the bottom of the cup. So after a 13-year hiatus and a move from Sports Illustrated to The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey—you get the upside-down idea, right?—I had some trepidation about embarking on a second book. ......
Haiti Trembles From The 'Aftershocks Of History'
Haiti has long been regarded as a special challenge for international aid organizations. Scott talks with Laurent Dubois, author of the upcoming book Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, about the effect, or lack thereof, of aid money sent to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake two years ago.
To listen to the interview, click here.
Give Guantánamo Back to Cuba
By JONATHAN M. HANSEN Published: January 10, 2012
"IN the 10 years since the Guantánamo detention camp opened, the anguished debate over whether to shutter the facility — or make it permanent — has obscured a deeper failure that dates back more than a century and implicates all Americans: namely, our continued occupation of Guantánamo itself. It is past time to return this imperialist enclave to Cuba.
From the moment the United States government forced Cuba to lease the Guantánamo Bay naval base to us, in June 1901, the American presence there has been more than a thorn in Cuba’s side. It has served to remind the world of America’s long history of interventionist militarism. Few gestures would have as salutary an effect on the stultifying impasse in American-Cuban relations as handing over...
Bug-eyed sensationalism: A book to keep you buzzing
"Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World"
By Marlene Zuk
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
What it is: No mere encyclopedia of bugs, "Sex on Six Legs" delivers exactly what its subtitle promises: lessons on life, love and language from the insect world. In this page-turner, entomologist and first-rate raconteur Marlene Zuk (who is a professor of biology at the University of California...
Haiti’s Tragic History
By ADAM HOCHSCHILD
Published: December 29, 2011
For the better part of two centuries, outsiders have been offering explanations that range from racist to learned-sounding — the supposed inferiority of blacks, the heritage of slavery, overpopulation — for why Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. None of these work: nearby Barbados has a greater population density, and about 90 percent of its people are descended from slaves, yet it outranks all but two nations in Latin America on the United Nations Human Development Index. Neither Barbados nor any other country, however, had so traumatic and crippling a birth as Haiti.
As a French possession, it was once the most lucrative colony on earth, producing nearly one-third of the world’s sugar and...
The Chicago Tribune's favorite books of 2011
A look at the titles that kept us reading well into the night
As 2011 comes to a close, we take a minute to reflect on the year's best in the world of publishing. Here is the list of our favorites, all published this year:
... "The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White" by Daniel J. Sharfstein
Racial passing has never seemed more painful or culturally oppressive than in this notable study of three families who once crossed those lines. Law professor Sharfstein dynamically portrays the risks these families took over the years. (Penguin Press, $27.95)
For the whole list,...
For the full list, click here.