100 books like Toussaint L'Ouverture

By John Beard,

Here are 100 books that Toussaint L'Ouverture fans have personally recommended if you like Toussaint L'Ouverture. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Keith Madsen Author Of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

From my list on the life and history of Haiti.

Why am I passionate about this?

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? 

Keith's book list on the life and history of Haiti

Keith Madsen Why did Keith love 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. 

By Mitch Albom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Finding Chika as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE MASTER STORYTELLER WHOSE BOOKS HAVE TOUCHED THE HEARTS OF OVER 40 MILLION READERS

'Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary' Cecilia Ahern
__________

Chika Jeune came into Mitch Albom's life by chance. Growing up in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Haiti Earthquake, at three years old she tragically lost her mother and was brought to the orphanage run by Mitch and his wife, Janine.

Chika made a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, she delighted those around her. But everything changed when Chika was diagnosed with a terminal disease that no doctor in Haiti could treat.

This…


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

Stephanie Nolen Author Of 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa

From my list on understanding Africa’s AIDS pandemic and feeling hopeful.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the global health reporter for The New York Times, the latest iteration in 30 years as a foreign correspondent. I’ve covered wars and humanitarian disasters, but it’s health stories that have always drawn me most. Health stories are intimate and personal, but they’re also about politics and economics, and social norms – about power. I’ve written about the Zika virus crisis in Brazil, child malnutrition in India, teen suicide in the Arctic – but no story has drawn me in and kept me riveted like Africa’s AIDS pandemic has over the past 25 years. I intend to keep reporting on it until the day a cure is found.

Stephanie's book list on understanding Africa’s AIDS pandemic and feeling hopeful

Stephanie Nolen Why did Stephanie love this book?

Wait, this book isn’t about Africa! No: it’s a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of the medical humanitarian agency Partners in Health who died in 2022, and who had a major influence on how I, and thousands of others, think about providing healthcare in low-resource settings.

This extremely readable biography of Farmer focuses mostly on his work in Haiti – where Farmer did pioneering work on HIV treatment – and while it’s the other side of the world, it’s a crucial text for rethinking how we understand structural inequalities and access to health care.

The seeds of Farmer’s radical approach were taken by many idealistic medical workers into African HIV programs and indeed when he died, he was in Rwanda, where he co-founded the University of Global Health Equity.

By Tracy Kidder, Michael French,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mountains Beyond Mountains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Tracy Kidder's critically acclaimed adult nonfiction work, Mountains Beyond Mountains has been adapted for young people by Michael French. In this young adult edition, readers are introduced to Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-educated doctor with a self-proclaimed mission to transform healthcare on a global scale. Farmer focuses his attention on some of the world's most impoverished people and uses unconventional ways in which to provide healthcare, to achieve real results and save lives.


Book cover of Haiti After the Earthquake

Keith Madsen Author Of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

From my list on the life and history of Haiti.

Why am I passionate about this?

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? 

Keith's book list on the life and history of Haiti

Keith Madsen Why did Keith love 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.

By Paul Farmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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 well,and where they failed,is important for anyone who cares about the country or international aid in general." , Miami…


Book cover of All Souls' Rising

Keith Madsen Author Of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

From my list on the life and history of Haiti.

Why am I passionate about this?

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? 

Keith's book list on the life and history of Haiti

Keith Madsen Why did Keith love 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.  

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,…


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

Katlyn Marie Carter Author Of Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy and Transparency in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on revolutionary ideas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, specializing in the American and French Revolutions. The relationship between ideas and politics has fascinated me since I worked in media relations in Washington, DC. Because I think history can help us better understand our current political controversies and challenges, I write about the origins of representative democracy in the eighteenth century. I’m also an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame where I teach classes on colonial and revolutionary America, the Constitution, and history of the media.

Katlyn's book list on revolutionary ideas

Katlyn Marie Carter Why did Katlyn love this book?

The Haitian Revolution was long left out of the history of Atlantic revolutions, dismissed as a violent uprising of enslaved people without an ideological dimension.

Dubois’s book walks readers through the twists and turns of this decade-long revolution, highlighting the intellectual agency of enslaved and freed people and the ideological consequences of this transformative event.

The Haitian Revolution is a notoriously complicated event, but I found that this book provided coherence and a compelling analysis of the effects of this crucial moment in the history of democracy and movement for human rights. And it was a gripping read at that.

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

5 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…


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

Christian Høgsbjerg Author Of Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we are thinking of the origins or roots of contemporary movements like #BlackLivesMatter, the Haitian Revolution represents a foundational, inspirational moment but one of also wider world-historical impact and importance – ‘the only successful slave revolt in history’ – and so as the most outstanding leader to emerge during that revolutionary upheaval Toussaint Louverture will always retain relevance and iconic significance. I've had an interest in Toussaint and the Haitian Revolution ever since undertaking my doctorate on how the black Trinidadian revolutionary historian C.L.R. James came to write his classic history of the Haitian Revolution. I currently teach history, including the history of Atlantic slavery and abolition, in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton. 

Christian's book list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world

Christian Høgsbjerg Why did Christian love this book?

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…

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

2 authors 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…


Book cover of Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

Christian Høgsbjerg Author Of Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we are thinking of the origins or roots of contemporary movements like #BlackLivesMatter, the Haitian Revolution represents a foundational, inspirational moment but one of also wider world-historical impact and importance – ‘the only successful slave revolt in history’ – and so as the most outstanding leader to emerge during that revolutionary upheaval Toussaint Louverture will always retain relevance and iconic significance. I've had an interest in Toussaint and the Haitian Revolution ever since undertaking my doctorate on how the black Trinidadian revolutionary historian C.L.R. James came to write his classic history of the Haitian Revolution. I currently teach history, including the history of Atlantic slavery and abolition, in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton. 

Christian's book list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world

Christian Høgsbjerg Why did Christian love this book?

There have been many biographies and studies of Toussaint Louverture written in the two centuries and more since his death in a French prison in 1803, including from within Haiti itself where a rich nationalist historiography of the revolution has always existed. Sudhir Hazareesingh builds on the best of these and utilises the latest archival research in his impressive study Black Spartacus, likely to be the definitive biography of ‘the epic life of Toussaint Louverture’ for the foreseeable future. Though Hazareesingh’s focus on Toussaint as a ‘superhero’ means he inherently has little if any use for the methodology of history ‘from below’ outlined in many of the other works on the Haitian Revolution I have selected here, and he downplays the critical role of other revolutionary leaders at various points, nonetheless the work is still very valuable for helping us understand Toussaint himself.  

Hazareesingh makes powerful and sophisticated arguments…

By Sudhir Hazareesingh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

** WINNER of THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE, 2021 **

Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, 2020
Shortlisted for the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, 2020
Finalist for the American Library in Paris Book Award, 2021
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Biography, 2021
Shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, 2020
Finalist for the Pen/Jacqueline Bogard Weld Award for Biography, 2020
Shortlisted for the Prix Chateau de Versailles du Livre d'Histoire, 2021
Shortlisted for the Prix Jean d'Ormesson, 2021

'A triumph' Financial Times
'Extraordinarily gripping ... a tour de force' Guardian

The Haitian…


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

Christian Høgsbjerg Author Of Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we are thinking of the origins or roots of contemporary movements like #BlackLivesMatter, the Haitian Revolution represents a foundational, inspirational moment but one of also wider world-historical impact and importance – ‘the only successful slave revolt in history’ – and so as the most outstanding leader to emerge during that revolutionary upheaval Toussaint Louverture will always retain relevance and iconic significance. I've had an interest in Toussaint and the Haitian Revolution ever since undertaking my doctorate on how the black Trinidadian revolutionary historian C.L.R. James came to write his classic history of the Haitian Revolution. I currently teach history, including the history of Atlantic slavery and abolition, in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton. 

Christian's book list on Toussaint Louverture and his impact on the world

Christian Høgsbjerg Why did Christian love this book?

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.  

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…


Book cover of Blades of Freedom: A Tale of Haiti, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase

Marissa Moss Author Of Talia's Codebook for Mathletes

From my list on graphic stand outs from the very crowded pack.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm best known for the Amelia's Notebook series which are based on the notebooks I kept as a kid. I started using the notebook format because that's how I thought—sometimes in words, sometimes in pictures. But this was a long time ago, in the 90s when graphic novels weren't a common format. When I submitted Amelia to publishers, they rejected it, saying it wasn't a picture book, it wasn't a novel, so how would librarians know where to shelve it? A small press that didn't know any better took a chance and published Amelia's Notebook. It became a big bestseller, with more than 20 books to follow and started a new trend in kid's books.

Marissa's book list on graphic stand outs from the very crowded pack

Marissa Moss Why did Marissa love this book?

Nathan Hale picks historical episodes that you don't know about but should and presents them in this exciting adventure format.

Blades of Freedom is about how Napoleon Bonaparte was planning to invade America. If he'd landed the army he'd planned into Louisiana territory, we could all be speaking French now. But a small problem got in his way—a slave uprising in Haiti.

Could Haiti save America? Read the book to find out what happens!

By Nathan Hale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blades of Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The 10th installment in the bestselling Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series tells the story of the Haitian Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase (1803) is today seen as one of history's greatest bargains. But why did Napoleon Bonaparte sell this seemingly prosperous territory? At the time, France controlled Haiti, and there, slaves were used to harvest sugar. But in 1791, Toussaint Louverture led the largest slave uprising in human history, the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). Napoleon had originally wanted to use Louisiana for trade, but with Haiti out of his control, Napoleon's dream of making a French empire in…


Book cover of The Haitians: A Decolonial History

Michael Kwass Author Of Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground

From my list on the Haitian Revolution from a historian of France.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University who studies the history of France and the French empire. My research stretches from the age of Louis XIV through the French Revolution, exploring questions of political economy, capitalism, empire, the Enlightenment, and popular culture. At a moment when historical research is becoming increasingly specialized, my work builds bridges between political, economic, and cultural history. 

Michael's book list on the Haitian Revolution from a historian of France

Michael Kwass Why did Michael love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Haiti, Toussaint Louverture, and the Haitian Revolution?

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