This work, the first comparative history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is divided into three parts: land and people, the history and contemporary politics of each nation, and social and economic conditions. Rayford W. Logan, long an expert in Negro and political history and an authority on United States-Haitian relations, does not neglect Hispaniola’s geographical and sociological aspects, enmeshed in the politics and diplomacy he knows so well.

Geography prepared economic tragedies for both nations, for the island’s land is often mountainous and seldom arable for poor and expanding populations. It is evident why land distribution schemes fail and why landholding remains the prime aspiration of Haitian peasants.

The French and Spanish colonial periods prepared bitter heritages. The Spanish east (after 1844 the Dominican Republic), more mulatto and white than Haiti, adopted anti-Negro, anti-Haitian policies following its occupation by Haiti, 1822-1844. Dominican historians and rulers have stressed this prejudice. In Haiti today’s aristocracy reflects French colonial contempt for manual labor and commerce. From the French past, too, Haitians inherit anti-white sentiments, while struggles between Negro and mulatto seldom wane. Ironically Haitians condemn French policies but respect French culture.

Logan’s second section is more than a condensed chronological history. Contrasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic appear sharp even when he does not compare them. Unlike Saint Domingue, France’s wealthiest colony, the “Spanish Part” was underdeveloped, underpopulated, and ill governed. After Louverture conquered the east, Haitians insisted for generations that the island must be indivisibly Haitian, fearing that foreign powers might conquer the Dominican area if they did not hold it. Conversely the Dominicans sought annexation abroad and for a time realized it under Spain. During the late nineteenth century the United States was interested in potential naval bases at Haitian Mole St. Nicolas and Dominican Samaná Bay.

Logan is at his best recounting these diplomatic events. He notes that the American customs receivership over the Dominican Republic in 1905 became a model for a similar arrangement with Haiti in 1915, while the U. S. Marine occupation of chaotic Haiti that year was a blueprint for the Dominican occupation in 1916.

The author brings his political narrative up to date, including Trujillo’s era and its aftermath and a brief assessment of Duvalier’s Haiti. Sketches of Haitian and Dominican health, education, and culture are tantalizingly general, but they also point up the republics’ differences. While French St. Domingue was culturally and materially an advanced colony, today’s Dominicans are far ahead of Haitians in expenditures and results in education and health. Haiti’s economy is the poorest in Latin America; Dominican commerce is more than twice as extensive.

In his final chapter Logan summarizes the major problems of the two lands, almost always to Haiti’s disadvantage: the burdens of slavery, military devastations, class-caste-color strife, and Haiti’s poor land-people ratio. The Dominican population is two-fifths as large as that of Haiti on nearly twice as much land. Dominicans, even under Trujillo, have favored foreign investment and generally maintained better foreign relations than Haiti. At present Haiti suffers a “brain-drain” of intellectuals emigrating to Africa. Haitians maintain an anti-foreign cultural barricade, causing a Dominican backlash; they even fear lest some foreign nation conquer the Dominican Republic and launch military ventures westward.

This work offers nonspecialist readers a good survey of these two nations, their impacts on one another, and, incidentally, their joint significance to the United States. Logan lists Haitian and Dominican rulers, with their dates—and color. Only one map is included, but the selective bibliography and index are helpful.