The Washington Post
Haiti After the Earthquakeby Paul Farmer
The book’s greatest strength lies in its depiction of the post-quake chaos In the book’s more analytical sections the author’s diagnosis of the difficulties of reconstruction is sharp.”/i>
Paul Farmer, doctor and aid worker, offers an inspiring insider’s view of the relief effort.”Financial Times
The book’s greatest strength lies in its depiction of the post-quake chaos In the book’s more analytical sections the author’s diagnosis of the difficulties of reconstruction is sharp.” Economist
A gripping, profoundly moving book, an urgent dispatch from the front by one of our finest warriors for social justice.” Adam Hochschild
His honest assessment of what the people trying to help Haiti did welland where they failedis important for anyone who cares about the country or international aid in general.” Miami Herald
The Washington Post
“A gripping recollection of the quake’s ruin, chaos, and despair, and the story of remarkable persistence, hope, and love in the aftermath. Once you’ve seen Haiti through Paul Farmer’s eyes, you’ll never see Haitians, or any of the world’s poorest people, quite the same way again.”
“Profoundly moving....An urgent dispatch from the front by one of our finest warriors for social justice. With eloquence and wisdom, Paul Farmer shows how we cannot fully comprehend one of the great natural disasters of history without understanding the man-made suffering that Americans and others have inflicted on Haiti.”
Madison Capital Times, July 14, 2011
“Through the sharing of his experiences and the essays of fellow relief workers and survivors, the book serves as both a first draft of history and a call to action for rebuilding a country devastated by natural and unnatural disasters
Farmer deftly tells the story of his multiple roles - doctor, administrator and diplomat... His writing remains accessible, revealing hope amid criticism and providing touches of humor in a unique personal narrative
"Haiti After the Earthquake" provides a relevant and engaging look into how Farmer sees the world. Readers will empathize with his anger over Haiti's suffering as well as appreciate his insistence that the disaster should open the way for serious development and rebuilding in a country long ignored.”
Financial Times, July 16, 2011
“Paul Farmer, doctor and aid worker, offers an inspiring insider’s view of the relief effort.”
Wyclef Jean, September 20, 2011
“The book accomplishes a sense of just keeping Haiti fresh in your mind. The disaster’s not over. They’re a people that have lost 250 million people, with 500,000 still living in tents. This book is a reminder of that.”
—The Globe and Mail
From the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and members of his team, a searing firsthand account of the earthquake and its aftermath.
Farmer (Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader, 2010, etc.) presents consequences of the outrage that U.S. law—e.g., the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961—makes it impossible to do what needs to be done in a country like Haiti. Relief and reconstruction funds cannot go to government agencies or to rebuild government infrastructure; instead, they must be funneled into NGOs. Haiti's government, writes the author, is operating out of a small police station on a shoestring budget. More than 40 percent of government employees were killed, and 28 out of 29 ministries were leveled. Yet, under the ruling law, because of Haiti's history of human-rights violations, the United States cannot contribute to rebuilding government infrastructure or paying public employees, including doctors, nurses and medical technicians. The NGOs and volunteers who receive the funds can't discuss policy priorities, make laws or coordinate the scale of activity required, and they siphon funds into overhead and operating costs. Farmer has been involved in Haiti for 25 years, during which time he has warned policy makers about the country's precarious position. Unfortunately, the results have been very close to what he was predicted for years—at least 2 million people are still displaced, one-third of the population is directly affected and cholera has become a major problem. Other contributors to this book include Edwidge Danticat, Evan Lyon and Dubique Kobel.
An eye-opener of a report and a wake-up call that change is needed.
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—President Bill Clinton
Meet the Author
Paul Farmer is Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and cofounder of Partners In Health. He also serves as UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti under Special Envoy Bill Clinton. Among his numerous awards and honors is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s genius award.”
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This is the book about Haiti that I have been searching for. It not only describes the powerful tragedy of the quake,but the difficult history of this nation and the strength of its people.
Haiti After the Earthquake is a novel in which a person has to get past a vast political message in order to get to the real meat of the story. This medical memoir by Paul Farmer does have its merits. Farmer was the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti. He is also apparently very close to the Clintons because Bill wrote a review for the back cover of the book, and Farmer mentions Hillary Clinton many times in the book. The novel’s message of struggle is very clear. It had many very emotional examples of heroism and kindness. He also spent chapters regarding the policy involved in the mess Haiti had been before the earthquake even hit. Everyone knows that the earthquake in Haiti was devastating, but Farmer’s novel delves into the idea that the failing infrastructure of the Haitian health care system made matters worse. He explains that “healthcare does not exist in a separate universe from politics” (page 23) many times. However, he does spend some time focusing on the stories of the earthquake victims, such a man who sat all night with a complete stranger all night, comforting through her bouts of tetanus, or medical students who were homeless but continued to work while sleeping in tents. However, most of the time the tone is very clinical, with phrases such as, “As President Clinton predicted on the day of the quake, the shelter dilemma remained the ranking problem in Haiti” (Page 180). All major problems in Haiti were addressed, as well as all the proposed solutions. Farmer is very knowledgeable about this subject and clearly knows the situations he writes about. The novel could have benefited from more emotional moments. It would have helped the reader connect, and made a more personal novel.
If you enjoy name-dropping and fawning over Bill Clinton, this is the book for you. For the rest of us however, I would not recommend this book. Although Farmer appears to have some interesting experiences, they are over-shadowed by his tendency to reference every organization and person he has worked with. If you are looking for a book about the Haitian earthquake and reconstruction, I would continue your search.