The Big Truck That Went by

The Big Truck That Went by

How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind A Disaster

Book - 2013
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PEN Literary Award Finalist

On January 12, 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck the nation least prepared to handle it. Jonathan M. Katz, the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti, was inside his house when it buckled along with hundreds of thousands of others. In this visceral, authoritative first-hand account, Katz chronicles the terror of that day, the devastation visited on ordinary Haitians, and how the world reacted to a nation in need.

More than half of American adults gave money for Haiti, part of a monumental response totaling $16.3 billion in pledges. But three years later the relief effort has foundered. It's most basic promises-to build safer housing for the homeless, alleviate severe poverty, and strengthen Haiti to face future disasters-remain unfulfilled.

The Big Truck That Went By presents a sharp critique of international aid that defies today's conventional wisdom; that the way wealthy countries give aid makes poor countries seem irredeemably hopeless, while trapping millions in cycles of privation and catastrophe. Katz follows the money to uncover startling truths about how good intentions go wrong, and what can be done to make aid "smarter."

With coverage of Bill Clinton, who came to help lead the reconstruction; movie-star aid worker Sean Penn; Wyclef Jean; Haiti's leaders and people alike, Katz weaves a complex, darkly funny, and unexpected portrait of one of the world's most fascinating countries. The Big Truck That Went By is not only a definitive account of Haiti's earthquake, but of the world we live in today.

Publisher: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780230341876
Branch Call Number: 363.34958 KATZ
Characteristics: 306 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm


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Jun 29, 2015

Such a huge issue with so many tentacles of side effects and causes, but the author does point out how the industry which has grown up around disaster relief has in many ways outgrown its usefulness and become a for-profit venture in many instances. Shocking when you consider that you'd sent money thinking it would be used to assist those in need, rather than to support a lavish lifestyle for someone there to 'help'.

ChristchurchLib Sep 03, 2014

Journalist Jonathan Katz was stationed in Haiti, working for the Associated Press, when a major earthquake devastated the country on January 12, 2010. He reported from the front lines of the disaster beginning the moment after it struck, and in The Big Truck That Went By he details both the immediate ruin and the continuing disaster of slow and inadequate responses by both Haitian leaders and international aid programs. He explains reasons for slow recovery and describes successful relief and rebuilding programs. Another thorough examination of the earthquake's effects appears in Haiti After the Earthquake, edited by Paul Farmer. History and Current Events newsletter September 2014.

May 10, 2014

Terrible disasters always inspire generosity from people around the globe, but once the press moves on and the world forgets, what happens to the survivors? Johathan Katz was the only American journalist stationed in Haiti at the time of the 2010 quake. He survived the quake and stayed close to the survivors long after the celebrities and ex-US presidents had gone. He gives a thoroughly researched account of the relief effort, including the billions in aid money that never reached the Haitian people and the cholera epidemic that did. There's also a fascinating account of the history of Haiti. I couldn't put this book down.

Jun 06, 2013

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is documented in this first person, on the ground account from an AP reporter of the unintended outcomes of a global desire to help earthquake victims and how dollars donated never leave the countries from which they are pledged.

Heartbreaking and enraging at the same time.


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