1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2013
Hait was the pooorest country in the Western hemisphere even before the devastating earthquake of January 2010. This is an excellent account of the challenges faced by Haitians, both before and after the earthquake, and there are many lessons the international humanitarian aid community can learn from the author's experiences. It is very well written, and even has some love interest!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"The Big Truck That Went By," is the first book from young journalist Jonathan M. Katz. When, on January 12, 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere, at more than 8.1 on the Richter scale, struck Haiti, the small half-a Caribbean -island nation many people might consider the least prepared to handle such a disaster, Jonathan M. Katz, an Associated Press reporter, was the only full-time American news correspondent in country. As hundreds of thousands of other people, he was inside his house when it buckled on that terrifying day. In this first-hand account, Katz takes readers inside the day's horror, guiding the reader through the devastation visited on ordinary Haitians, and through the monumental--yet poorly thought-out and organized--rescue effort that followed. Katz's excellent debut book was given the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
In a global response to Haiti's tragedy that reached $16. 3 billion in pledges, more than half of American adults made contributions to that poor, troubled nation. Yet three years later, most of the pledges have not been redeemed, and such effort as there has been has not produced much change. The promises made by world leaders, to rebuild safer cities, alleviate the island nation's monumental poverty, and strengthen its defenses to face future disasters have gone unredeemed. In his reports from the side of such figures as President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Haitian rap singer Wyclef Jean, and Hollywood actor Sean Penn, Katz examines what went wrong, as he creates a darkly funny portrait of a downtrodden nation with a history of failure. THE BIG TRUCK THAT WENT BY finds that the way wealthy countries give aid to poor countries today makes poor countries seem irredeemably hopeless, and traps their citizens in cycles of privation and catastrophe. Katz argues that the commonplace assumptions that officials of poor nations are corrupt, and poor people will respond to disaster of any sort by rioting and looting, are in fact, generally baseless. And he follows the big truck to show how good intentions can go wrong, and what can be done to improve the way the developed world's aid is delivered to undeveloped nations.
In New York, I knew, only slightly, a few Haitians, and always found them honest and hard-working in the extreme, if perhaps too emotionally volatile. I never understood how their native land, despite its lush origins, and its relatively long history, could be so poor and disorganized, but Katz's able recounting of its history was really eye-opening for me, as was his introduction to us of various ordinary Haitians. I also found his descriptions of the present-day country most satisfying. I've only a few problems with this book. The copy of it I have received is not labeled as an advance readers copy, yet it has hardly been copyedited. And it really needs pictures of the people and places it discusses. If this is, in fact, an unlabeled ARC, I sure hope these problems will be cleared up by now, as people think about actually buying it.