It is difficult to understand why this book was written or published. More than two-thirds of it presents unsystematically and subjectively some of the well-known highlights of Haitian history from 1492 to Dr. François Duvalier’s accession to power in 1957. These are recounted in colorful language as sufficient in themselves to explain the development of a society in which a Duvalier could come to and maintain himself in power. No attempt is made to analyze the fabric of Haitian society as an explanation of the conditions that produce a Duvalier. At most, in his effort to present the factors giving rise to the Duvalier regime, the author has confirmed what scarcely needs confirmation—that the regime is in the tradition of Haitian politics.
The book’s remaining 37 pages deal with Duvalier and the period of his rule. They are little more than a stringing together of lengthy quotations from the writings of journalists and other observers, with explosive comments by the author indicting the man and his effort to govern. No attempt is made to describe, analyze, and appraise in scholarly and critical fashion the ten-year history of the regime and its principal figure.
In short, the book provides neither new knowledge and insights into Haitian history and the Duvalier regime, nor even a succinct and useful summary and interpretation of the regime and the historical and other forces that produced it. The reader will have missed little if he passes it by.