You may have noticed a new selection of books in the window at Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont Blvd.
“I just woke up that morning and thought we had to do something,” Liz Newstat, manager at Chevalier’s, told the Buzz. “Our owners, (Bert Deixler and Daryl Holter) had a similar idea, so we put together a selection of books from authors from Haiti, Africa and El Salvador.”
Newstat said the reaction to the window, which was also posted on social media, has been great.
“Everyone has been very positive,” said Newstat, who also pointed the Buzz to Amy Wilentz, our own local expert on Haiti for more information.
Wilentz, a journalist and author, recently wrote an article in The Nation explaining how Haitian slave resistance to French rule enabled then US President Thomas Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase.
In her article, “Without Haiti, the United States Would, in Fact, Be a Shithole (And some other things about the country that Donald Trump doesn’t know and doesn’t care to know),” Wilentz writes:
“It goes without saying that Donald Trump knows nothing about history. But those who do have heard of the Louisiana Purchase, the incredible deal President Jefferson struck with France to buy the giant piece of land, 828,000 square miles of river and breadbasket, that stretches from what is now the Canadian border down to New Orleans and the delta. Without this territory, the United States would never have become a continental power nor, subsequently, a great global power. Jefferson got it at a bargain-basement price: $250 million, in current dollars, doubling the size of the country for less than 3 cents per acre.
You may ask what this has to do with Haiti (although any president with a competent staff would have this information at his fingertips). Here’s the answer, White House staff: Napoleon wanted to sell this fabulously valuable piece of New World real estate because for more than a decade he had failed to put down the startling slave revolution in the French colony of Haiti, losing two-thirds of French forces there in the process.
The First Consul (that’s Napoleon, Mr. President) could see the writing on the wall. France was pushed to the limit of its military and financial means by the Haitian uprising, and the future emperor (NB: also Napoleon) had lost his taste for further involvement in the Americas. He sold us Louisiana. Then on January 1, 1804, Haiti declared its independence from France, and by extension, from white men like Donald Trump.
So it is the courage and tenacity of the rebellious slaves of Haiti that created the United States as we know it. Score one for the shithole.”
Wilentz, who lives in Windsor Square, offered the following suggestions for books about Haiti.
To start, “The Rainy Season” and “Farewell, Fred Voodoo,” by Wilentz,as well as these fairly recent nonfiction books:
- “The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came to Save Haiti and Left a Disaster,” by Jonathan Katz
- “Haiti: The Aftershocks of History,” by Laurent Dubois and “Avengers of the New World,” also by Laurent Dubois.
In addition, Wilentz suggested the following Haitian novels:
- “Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Triptych,” by Marie Vieux-Chauvet
- “Claire of the Sea Light,” and any other novel by Edwidge Danticat
- “Ready to Burst,” by Franketienne
The helpful staff at Chevalier’s can help you find these titles, as well as many more, so you can learn more about Haiti and other countries. As Chevalier’s patrons know, books are really great resources!