The best books featuring the life and history of Haiti

Who am I?

From the time I heard of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed over 200,000 people, my heart was drawn to that country. From 2012 to 2017 I lead five mission trips to Cap Haitian, where we toured mission work, helped Haitians build an elementary school, and met so many of these beautiful people. I ate the great cooking of “Mama Jo” who, along with her husband, hosted us. I gave “horsey” rides to children at a Port-au-Prince orphanage; and shared in prayer and singing with churches near Cap Haitian. In short, I fell in love with these people. How could I not write a novel of hope about them? 

I wrote...

The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

By Keith Madsen,

Book cover of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

What is my book about?

In The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint, Isaac Breda seeks to renew the revolution of his famous forefather, Toussaint Louverture. He is discouraged that a revolution that had cost so much, now had so little to show for it, and he determines to make Haiti’s freedom real. He enlists his friends, including his beautiful girlfriend, Marie-Noelle. In pursuing this quest, they are inspired by the words of Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” They fight against the poverty and corruption in Haiti, and for the people and land they love. Taking on this challenge transforms both themselves and their country.

The books I picked & why

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Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

By Mitch Albom,

Book cover of Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

Why this book?

This is an incredibly touching book! Mitch Albom is the author of other excellent books, but Finding Chika has become my favorite. The story of how he and his wife brought a little Haitian child into their orphanage in Haiti, and then eventually when it was discovered she had brain cancer, into their own home, was hard to put down. As an author who has visited Haiti many times and played with children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake, I strongly empathized with this story of a suffering Haitian child. Albom’s prose is flawless, and his ability to draw in the reader is inspiring, and you will not regret checking this book out. 

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

By Tracy Kidder, Michael French,

Book cover of Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

Why this book?

I read this book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tracy Kidder, in preparation for my first trip to Haiti. I found that it helped me believe that Haiti can see better days. The book is an account of the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti. He recently died, but his tremendous influence lives on through the teaching hospital at Mirebalais and the work of Partners in Health. Significantly the subtitle of Kidder’s book refers to “a man who would cure the world.” What an audacious goal! And yet I’ve got to say, that kind of idealism inspires me and makes me want to be “part of the answer” in this hurting world.

Haiti After the Earthquake

By Paul Farmer,

Book cover of Haiti After the Earthquake

Why this book?

If you are looking for a book on Haiti's challenges, and whether or not there is long-term hope for this country, this is the book you should choose. The late Paul Farmer was a physician who has been involved for many years in improving Haiti's healthcare system, and after the 2010 earthquake worked with people like former US President Bill Clinton in helping the country to "build back better." I read the book between my first and second trips to Haiti and found it to be a treasure-trove of information on Haiti’s background, as well as sources of hope.

Toussaint L'Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography

By John Beard,

Book cover of Toussaint L'Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography

Why this book?

This is the definitive biography on Toussaint. First published in 1863, it clearly showed me why Toussaint L’Ouverture was one of the most admired world leaders of his time. They called him “the Black Napoleon!” Reading this book brought back to mind that I did a report on Haiti and Toussaint back when I was in junior high (“a long time ago in a universe far, far away!") Even at the time I was impressed by how much the Haitian Revolution influenced our own Civil War.  

All Souls' Rising: A Novel of Haiti

By Madison Smartt Bell,

Book cover of All Souls' Rising: A Novel of Haiti

Why this book?

As I prepared to write my own novel on Haiti, I searched for a novel of merit already written as part of my preparation. I found this work of Madison Smartt Bell, which was nominated for the National Book Award. This author proved to be a master of the language. I admired his ability to bring Toussaint alive, as well as picturing the culture of the time, and the complexities of a war that changed history.  

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Haiti, slave rebellions, and Toussaint Louverture?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Haiti, slave rebellions, and Toussaint Louverture.

Haiti Explore 25 books about Haiti
Slave Rebellions Explore 9 books about slave rebellions
Toussaint Louverture Explore 6 books about Toussaint Louverture

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, and Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture if you like this list.