An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President

An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President

by Randall Robinson
     
 

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On February 29, 2004, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced to leave his country. The president was kidnapped, along with his Haitian-American wife, by American soldiers and flown to the isolated Central African Republic. In An Unbroken Agony, best-selling author and social justice advocate Randall Robinson

Overview

On February 29, 2004, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced to leave his country. The president was kidnapped, along with his Haitian-American wife, by American soldiers and flown to the isolated Central African Republic. In An Unbroken Agony, best-selling author and social justice advocate Randall Robinson chronicles his own cross-Atlantic journey to rescue the Haitian president from captivity in Africa while also connecting the fate of Aristide’s presidency to the Haitian people’s century-long quest for self-determination.

Editorial Reviews

Theola Labbe
In his latest work, Robinson offers a passionate retelling of the history of Haiti and the circumstances surrounding the rise and fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Using history, eyewitness accounts and his own role as a monitor for parliamentary elections, Robinson has created a worthy account, in his trademark incensed style, of how American and European policies have harmed, rather than helped, Haiti.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

The title promises a history of Haiti, but Robinson (The Debt, etc.) delivers a brief for former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and an excoriation of American policies and actions related to his exile. The portrait of Aristide borders on hagiography: "Of all the public Christians I have known personally, Aristide led a life that emulated the implacable Christ whose sympathies for the poor Aristide had since childhood taken to heart." The Americans, meanwhile, are largely portrayed as evil: "American officials had armed and directed the thugs, organized an unelected and unelectable opposition, and choked the Haitian economy into dysfunctional penury." Robinson's righteous outrage often turns to rant, and his passionate, partisan account veers into repetition, without providing adequate context for his ire. He offers minute descriptions of Artistide's abduction to the Central African Republic in September 1994, his flight and the efforts to save and relocate him, but spends little time on Aristide's governance as Haiti's first democratically elected leader. "For the uninitiated, Haiti must appear to be a bewildering stew of obscure and violent events," Robinson writes. How sad that he did not use these pages to clarify the broth. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Robinson (founder, TransAfrica; The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks) here aims to give a detailed and subjective account of the February 29, 2004, coup that removed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office, paying virtually no attention to his first term in 1991, which also ended in a coup, or his second term (1994-96). Robinson starts with a brief history of how Haitians won independence from France in 1804 and of the antagonism shown the new country by America, which refused to recognize it, occupied it for 19 years beginning in 1915, and supported cruel dictatorial governments there for most of the 20th century. He emphasizes how wealthy Haitians, with American and French assistance, drove Aristide from power for a second time. The worldwide press reported that Aristide resigned in 2004 to avoid bloodshed, an explanation Robinson contradicts, claiming that U.S. special forces kidnapped the president and his wife and flew them to exile in Africa. As Robinson and his wife are longtime associates of the Aristides, this book is a personal account of events rather than a scholarly examination, though Robinson also makes use of news reports and accounts of participants for source material. A passionate and controversial look at continuing U.S. involvement in Haiti; recommended for all libraries.
—Stephen L. Hupp

Kirkus Reviews
A fiery, disorganized and somewhat repetitive expose of longstanding injustices toward Haiti perpetrated by a long list of colonial powers including France and, most recently, the United States. On Feb. 29, 2004, an American convoy escorted twice-elected Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince and removed him for good from his country. Did he resign, as the official U.S. version maintains, or was he rather deposed by an American-backed coup d'etat? Robinson (The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe Each Other, 2002, etc.) vehemently lays out evidence of a coup. Haiti has long been isolated and resented by the Caribbean's colonial powers. Thanks to the military genius of former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture, the French colony known as Saint-Domingue staged the only successful slave revolt in the Americas in 1803 and became an independent nation, expelling its brutal French masters and ending Napoleon's dreams of world empire. The United States, France and other powers (including the Vatican) punished Haiti with embargos and crushing reparations that had devastating consequences for decades to come. Dictators such as the Duvaliers were puppets of American business interests, while former priest Aristide, elected democratically in 1990, enacted social reforms that helped level discrepancies between rich and poor and destroy the status quo. Hence, Robinson asserts, American resentment against Haiti's intransigence is deeply rooted; Haitians are considered proud and "unmanipulable." The Bush administration helped destabilize the government by arming Duvalierist rebels led by Guy Philippe, a CIA-trained former police precinct captain, to threaten order andbring down Aristide. Robinson's Christ-like portrait of Aristide is a bit over-the-top, and his single-note argument is rather erratically presented. It is nonetheless deeply persuasive, as brisk chapters move urgently between past and present. Robinson eloquently urges the white world to accord the constitutions and laws of black countries the same sanctity it accords its own.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465012893
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
05/06/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
560,051
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Randall Robinson is the author of the bestsellers The Debt, The Reckoning, and Defending the Spirit. He is also founder and past president of TransAfrica, the African-American organization he established to promote enlightened, constructive U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean. In 1984, Robinson established the Free South Africa Movement and in 1994, his public advocacy, including a 27-day hunger strike, led to the UN multinational operation that restored Haiti’s first democratically elected government to power. Mr. Robinson lives with his wife and daughter in St. Kitts.

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