The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan M Katz
|The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan M Katz|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: An engaging eyewitness account of the quake in Haiti and the failure of the governments to solve the problems that followed.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2013|
|Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan|
It was January 12, 2010 and AP correspondent Jonathan M. Katz was preparing to ship out of Haiti after spending the last two and a half years reporting about political instability, riots and disasters. He was preparing for a change of scene, a stint in Afghanistan, concluding that It sounded like a good place for a break. Nature had other plans.
When the earthquake struck, Katz was unexpectedly thrown into the thick of the action. As the only American reporter on the ground at the time of the quake, he felt duty-bound to break news of unfolding events to an oblivious world.
The Big Truck That Went By is a unique compilation of personal experience and individual survival stories interwoven with informative contextual history and in-depth analysis. Katz uses his intimate knowledge of Haiti and its people to deliver a thorough explanation of why the response of the international community failed to address the underlying problems faced by the Haitians and was unsuccessful in delivering a sustainable, long-term solution.
Katz questions the way that governments and aid agencies react in the immediate aftermath of such a large-scale disaster. He discusses how the money is spent and how resources are distributed. He analyses what went wrong and why, almost three years later, people are still living in makeshift housing, despite the $16.3 billion pledged by donors for reconstruction.
I was fascinated by the author’s engaging account of his personal experiences following the quake. His narrative is both thrilling and harrowing in equal measure and it was not surprising to read that he suffered from PTSD and needed counselling when he returned home. It was also interesting to read about the tenacity of the Haitian people themselves in their struggle to survive post-quake.
Katz also includes plenty of investigation, examination and opinion. I must confess that I did find the in-depth analysis quite hard to read at times. Katz is very thorough when it comes to investigating events, but I often found these sections a little heavy-going and dull in contrast to the engaging narrative of the personal accounts.
The Big Truck That Went By does not steer clear of the big issues. Rather, it tackles them head-on. The book is important and illuminating reading for those of us who donated money towards the reconstruction project and illustrates why good intentions are not always enough to facilitate real change.
For an engaging fictional account of the Haiti quake, try In Darkness by Nick Lake
You can read more book reviews or buy The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan M Katz at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Big Truck That Went By by Jonathan M Katz at Amazon.com.
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