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Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment Paperback – 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books(London,New York); 1st Ed. 1977 edition (2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844671062
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844671069
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,710,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Very convincing, a marvellous book. This riveting and deeply-informed account should be carefully read by those who recognize that Haiti s tragic history is a microcosm of imperial savagery and heroic resistance resistance which, as Hallward argues, will continue to shape Haiti s political future if its people are granted the opportunity to take their fate into their own hands. - --Noam Chomsky, MIT.

Damming the Flood demonstrates that, contrary to what so many self-proclaimed experts have led us to believe with the steady diet of half-truths and outright lies they have been feeding us, it is indeed possible to get Haiti right. All it takes is a healthy dose of respect for a nation and a people so deserving of it, and an uncompromising devotion to the truth. - --Patrick Elie, political activist and former Secretary of State for National Defense, Haiti.

Damming the Flood is an excellent book, the best study of its kind. It offers the first accurate analysis of recent Haitian history, and of its history in the making. Finally, we have an honest rendering of how the Haitian poor sought to advance their struggle for dignity at the close of the twentieth century, and of the forces that have stymied their struggle. Hallward s new book is required reading for anyone who seeks to know Haiti and to understand the forces arrayed against all those who believe in genuine democracy. Paul Farmer, Harvard University. - --Paul Farmer, Harvard University.

About the Author

Peter Hallward teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University in the UK. Before moving to Middlesex he taught for several years in the French department at King s College London. His research ranges across several debates in recent continental philosophy and the reception of post-colonial literature; he also works on some of the obstacles currently facing progressive political movements in various parts of the world. Damming the Flood (2007) is his fourth book, after Absolutely Postcolonial (2001), Badiou: A Subject to Truth (2003), and Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation (2006).

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Julian Richards on 12 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
"[Aristide's] regime was little different from Haiti's other rulers when power was exercised in the personal interests of previous presidents.

"Christian Aid's Haitian partner organisations have ample evidence of serious human rights abuses and misrule committed by Aristide and his supporters. Despite his populist rhetoric, Aristide failed to take any serious measures during his last period in office that would address Haiti's underlying problems of growing poverty, glaring inequality and the exclusion of ordinary people from any say in the way the country is governed."

So wrote Helen Spraos of the Christian Aid field office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a few days after Jean-Bertrand Aristide's departure from the country. She was responding to Peter Hallward's Guardian article "Why they had to crush Aristide", which misleadingly presented the Haitian president, she said, as "a champion of the poor".

TV news, mainstream politicians and journalists in the previous week had told the same story as Spraos: Aristide was an inspiring popular leader - a former priest - who had toppled the dictatorship of "Baby Doc" Duvalier but then gone bad: drunk on power, he had become yet another brutal, corrupt third-world tyrant. Thank heavens that the US and France moved quickly to restore order once he had seen the writing on the wall and agreed to leave. Admittedly, this was 2004, and anyone with eyes and ears could see that news media and politicians often travel at some distance from the truth. But Spraos was not a journalist or a diplomat: here was a woman who had devoted her working life to helping the poor, who was there on the ground, who could see the situation with her own eyes.

And who is Hallward?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Michna on 26 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hallward has created perhaps the most detailed analysis of the politics of Haiti from the 1990's onwards that is currently available. The descriptions of the various factions and political actors involved in this period of Haitian politics is impressive whilst at the same time, occasionally difficult to follow and digest. A mass of acronyms also does not assist the reader but Hallward does present a list of who these acronyms refer to and this is needed as one attempts to keep track of which particular organisation, faction or grouping he is referring to.

Would have wished to have read a little more about Aristide the man and his background as preparation for the upheavals that he subsquently had to go through.

For those wishing an in-depth analysis of Haitain politics during the last 25 years or so, it has to be recommended reading. Those looking for a quicker and easier read may need to look elsewhere.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Duncan Macfarlane on 28 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is probably the best in-depth look at Haiti in the 20th and 21st centuries. It begins with a chapter on Haiti's history as a colony, the slave rebellions, the reconquest by France and the debt imposed on Haitians for daring to rebel, which was not finally paid off till 1947.

Most of the chapters are on the period from 1991 till 2006 in which Aristide became the central figure in Haitian politics and a target for the French and US governments as a result of his involvement with masses of the poorest Haitians, working along with them to organise self-help groups and a political movement.

Hallward does not hide the darker side of Aristide - his speeches on the usefulness of machetes or on letting the wealthiest 'have what they deserve' if they refuse to share their wealth, but points out the context - in which agents of dictators, military dictators and the US government massacred Aristide's parishioners with guns and machetes during church sermons - and in which political violence was reduced massively while Aristide was in power.

Hallward lays bare the duplicity of the US and French governments (the latter through the EU) in painting Aristide as behind most political violence in Haiti while they have actually trained and armed most of the killers.

The copiously sourced and well argued book shows how these governments managed an international propaganda campaign to discredit Aristide and paint him as a corrupt dictator when in fact he has consistently won the support of the majority of Haitians in free and fair elections and massively reduced political violence before the last US-organised military coup against him in 2004.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pancho Max on 18 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
My reading on Aristide before I was recommended to buy this book was some hostile newspaper reports and a terrible book by Michael Deibert called The Last Testament (avoid). Then I went to Haiti and couldn't find anyone who had a good word to say for Aristide except a woman who had actually worked for him, and many people were vitriolic in their loathing. I came back very confused, because it was clear to me that the case against Aristide was (a)orchestrated and (b) incoherent, but where was the narrative that made sense of the events of his presidency? Peter Hallward's book is that narrative, and I read it with huge relief. Not because it was what I wanted to hear - indeed, reading it, my rage with the US State Department, the cynical Haitan elite, the stupidity of the left who betrayed a socialist president for some petty gain of their own, etc etc. - mounted. But here at last is explanation, lucid and detailed and accompanied by a myriad (necessary and fascinating) notes and references, showing how a politician who was seen in the corridors of power as posing a serious threat to the status quo in a sensitive region of the world was systematically and ruthlessly undermined, slandered, rendered powerless, finally physically removed, and still can't set foot on his native shore. Read this book, and watch Haiti in 2010 when the next presidential election is due.
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