10 books like Haiti

By Laurent Dubois,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Haiti. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Silencing the Past

By Michel-Rolph Trouillot,

Book cover of Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

How is it that the American and French Revolutions are discussed endlessly, but few people learn anything about the Haitian Revolution? This classic volume of essays by an anthropologist explores the many ways by which the story of the Haitian Revolution has been silenced. Trouillot explains how power shapes the recording and the telling of history, determining what is put in and, importantly, what is left out. Few books have made me think so hard about how history is produced.

Silencing the Past

By Michel-Rolph Trouillot,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Silencing the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now part of the HBO docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes, written and directed by Raoul Peck

The 20th anniversary edition of a pioneering classic that explores the contexts in which history is produced—now with a new foreword by renowned scholar Hazel Carby
 
Placing the West’s failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution—the most successful slave revolt in history—alongside denials of the Holocaust and the debate over the Alamo, Michel-Rolph Trouillot offers a stunning meditation on how power operates in the making and recording of history.

This modern classic resides at the intersection of history, anthropology, Caribbean, African-American, and post-colonial studies, and…


The Haitians

By Jean Casimir, Laurent Dubois (translator),

Book cover of The Haitians: A Decolonial History

When you think about Columbus arriving in Haiti, Casimir asks, do you imagine yourself on the boat or on the shore? With deep insight, Casimir writes from the perspective of those on the shore, producing a decolonial history that emphasizes how rural Haitians drew on African traditions to resist the brutal system of plantation slavery imposed by French colonists. Further, he shows how patterns of popular resistance persisted during and after the Haitian Revolution, when Haitian elites attempted to revive parts of the plantation system. This is one of the most insightful and compelling books I read this year.

The Haitians

By Jean Casimir, Laurent Dubois (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Haitians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping history, leading Haitian intellectual Jean Casimir argues that the story of Haiti should not begin with the usual image of Saint-Domingue as the richest colony of the eighteenth century. Rather, it begins with a reconstruction of how individuals from Africa, in the midst of the golden age of imperialism, created a sovereign society based on political imagination and a radical rejection of the colonial order, persisting even through the U.S. occupation in 1915.

The Haitians also critically retheorizes the very nature of slavery, colonialism, and sovereignty. Here, Casimir centers the perspectives of Haiti's moun andeyo - the…


Entrepôt of Revolutions

By Manuel Covo,

Book cover of Entrepôt of Revolutions: Saint-Domingue, Commercial Sovereignty, and the French-American Alliance

Covo investigates long-neglected economic aspects of the Haitian Revolution. Beginning in the pre-revolutionary period, when the French called the colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) the “Pearl of the Caribbean,” this deeply researched book spotlights the role Haiti played as a commodities hub during the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. I find this book particularly important because it shows how imperial trade and racial capitalism defined the age of commercial republicanism.

Entrepôt of Revolutions

By Manuel Covo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Entrepôt of Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Age of Revolutions has been celebrated for the momentous transition from absolute monarchies to representative governments and the creation of nation-states in the Atlantic world. Much less recognized than the spread of democratic ideals was the period's growing traffic of goods, capital, and people across imperial borders and reforming states' attempts to control this mobility.

Analyzing the American, French, and Haitian revolutions in an interconnected narrative, Manuel Covo centers imperial trade as a driving force, arguing that commercial factors preceded and conditioned political change across the revolutionary Atlantic. At the heart of these transformations was the "entrepot," the island…


Haiti's Paper War

By Chelsea Stieber,

Book cover of Haiti's Paper War: Post-Independence Writing, Civil War, and the Making of the Republic, 1804–1954

A Professor of French and Francophone studies, Stieber describes the development of Haitian literature and print culture in the immediate aftermath of that nation’s revolution, when Haiti was divided between a southern Francocenteric republic and a northern anti-colonial monarchy. I’m impressed by all the ways in which this book illuminates the literary dimension of Haiti’s civil war, underscoring how writers on different sides of the conflict offered competing visions of Haiti’s past, present, and future. The book further explores how this cultural divide played out in successive Haitian governments and even in how historians write about Haiti today.

Haiti's Paper War

By Chelsea Stieber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Haiti's Paper War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Turns to the written record to re-examine the building blocks of a nation
Picking up where most historians conclude, Chelsea Stieber explores the critical internal challenge to Haiti's post-independence sovereignty: a civil war between monarchy and republic. What transpired was a war of swords and of pens, waged in newspapers and periodicals, in literature, broadsheets, and fliers. In her analysis of Haitian writing that followed independence, Stieber composes a new literary history of Haiti, that challenges our interpretations of both freedom struggles and the postcolonial. By examining internal dissent during the revolution, Stieber reveals…


Avengers of the New World

By Laurent Dubois,

Book cover of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

This is the best written and most easily comprehensive narrative of the Haitian Revolution. Providing helpful historical context, poignant biographical sketches, and affecting anecdotes, the book simplifies the extraordinarily complicated story of the largest and most successful slave revolt in world history. While other accounts of the Haitian Revolution are more acclaimed, none are more enlightening than this one, especially for the general reader.

Avengers of the New World

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Avengers of the New World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to emancipate them, a decision ratified by revolutionary Paris in 1794. This victory was a stunning challenge to the order of master/slave relations throughout the Americas, including the southern United States, reinforcing the most fervent hopes of slaves and the worst fears of masters.

But, peace eluded Saint-Domingue as British and…


The Making of Haiti

By Carolyn E. Fick,

Book cover of The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below

Carolyn Fick was a doctoral student of C.L.R. James and George Rudé during the 1970s in Montreal, Canada, and in keeping with the turn of social history towards ‘history from below’ in that decade, produced a pioneering study in 1990 of the wider contested forms of revolutionary leadership beyond Toussaint Louverture during the Haitian Revolution, particularly in the South of what was then French colonial Saint Domingue. Carolyn remains a leading historian of the Haitian Revolution, and her work helps us better understand the class dynamics of the revolutionary process as it unfolded, and the tragedy of Toussaint as he developed into a representative of a new land-owning ruling class in Saint Domingue, even as he continued to strike powerful blows at European slave-owning colonial powers.  

The Making of Haiti

By Carolyn E. Fick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of Haiti as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1789 the French colony of Saint Domingue was the wealthiest and most flourishing of the Caribbean slave colonies, its economy based on the forced labor of more than half a million black slaves raided from their African homelands. The revolt of this underclass in 1791-the only successful slave rebellion in history-gained the slaves their freedom and set in motion the colony's struggle for independence as the black republic of Haiti.

In this pioneering study, Carolyn E. Fick argues that the repressed and uneducated slaves were the principal architects both of their own freedom and of the successful movement toward…


The Kingdom of This World

By Alejo Carpentier, Pablo Medina (translator),

Book cover of The Kingdom of This World

The celebrated Cuban author employs the Latin American trope of magical realism in this novel of the Haitian Revolution that created the world’s first Black republic on New Year’s Day 1801. Through the eyes of the slave Ti Noël, readers meet some of the most celebrated figures of Haitian history: the legendary one-armed houngan (Vodou priest) Mackandal, the independence leader Boukman, and the first emperor of the North, Henri-Christophe. As a freedman, Ti Noël becomes disillusioned with the brutality under the new regime, including the conditions endured by workers building the Citadel fortress.

The Kingdom of This World

By Alejo Carpentier, Pablo Medina (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Kingdom of This World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kingdom of this World (57) by Carpentier, Alejo [Paperback (2006)]


Toussaint L'Ouverture

By John Beard,

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

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.  

Toussaint L'Ouverture

By John Beard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toussaint L'Ouverture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a reproduction of a classic text optimised for kindle devices. We have endeavoured to create this version as close to the original artefact as possible. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we believe they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James,

Book cover of The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

This work was the first work I read about the Haitian Revolution as a student, and though published in 1938, The Black Jacobins is a classic of historical literature which still remains the best starting place for understanding Toussaint Louverture as a revolutionary leader and his place in history. Born in Trinidad, a Caribbean island with a legacy of slavery and so not entirely unlike Haiti itself, James as a black anti-colonialist became inspired by the Russian Revolution which represented a massive challenge to racism and imperialism. 

The Marxist theory of permanent revolution, outlined in Leon Trotsky’s own History of the Russian Revolution, helped James understand how the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution were intrinsically intertwined throughout, and so how Jacobinism could inspire Toussaint, just as James himself had been inspired by Bolshevism. The Black Jacobins is a brilliant model of revolutionary history at its best, panoramic in…

The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Jacobins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1791, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, the slaves of San Domingo rose in revolt. Despite invasion by a series of British, Spanish and Napoleonic armies, their twelve-year struggle led to the creation of Haiti, the first independent black republic outside Africa. Only three years later, the British and Americans ended the Atlantic slave trade.

In this outstanding example of vivid, committed and empathetic historical analysis, C. L. R. James illuminates these epoch-making events. He explores the appalling economic realities of the Caribbean economy, the roots of the world's only successful slave revolt and the utterly extraordinary…


All Souls' Rising

By Madison Smartt Bell,

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

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.  

All Souls' Rising

By Madison Smartt Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Souls' Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A serious historical novel that reads like a dream." --The Washington Post Book World

"One of the most spohisticated fictional treatments of the enduring themes of class, color, and freedom." --San Francisco Chronicle

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FINALIST 

This first installment of the epic Haitian trilogy brings to life a decisive moment in the history of race, class, and colonialism. The slave uprising in Haiti was a momentous contribution to the tide of revolution that swept over the Western world at the end of the 1700s. A brutal rebellion that strove to overturn a vicious system of slavery,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Haiti, the Haitian Revolution, and France?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Haiti, the Haitian Revolution, and France.

Haiti Explore 39 books about Haiti
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