The full title of this one is The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. Honestly, you had me at Haiti (surprise!).
This book is Jonathan Katz’s story of working as an American journalist in Haiti from the earthquake in January 2010 through the presidential elections in early 2012 (right before I visited in April 2012, so I was definitely hooked). Katz intersperses his own personal experiences with a ton of information on the bigger story of what was happening in the country during this time.
Part memoir, part historical account (think Melissa Fay Greene’s There is No Me without You), part critique of the distribution of foreign aid in the wake of the “acute on chronic” disaster in Haiti (think When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert), the author’s presence in Haiti before the earthquake gives him a unique perspective. If you gave money for earthquake relief in Haiti, his is a voice that needs to be heard.
The personal story and Katz’s clear care for his Haitian friends makes the harder-to-swallow historical and political information more palatable. His critique of the emergency aid provided (and not provided) by countries like the US is well-reasoned and sparks questions that need to be considered. And who doesn’t enjoy a good love story amidst the physical and psychological rubble of a natural disaster?
Especially recommended for my friends who are invested in good work happening in Haiti, this book is worth a read if you want to think deeply about the best way to put your compassion into action without creating a big old mess.