The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster by Jonathan M. Katz
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.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Current Goodreads Rating: 4.09 Stars
The first half of this book, the author put himself emotionally and physically in the turmoil surrounding Haiti and it was beautiful. There was a point were I cried when he was interviewing Haitians asking why they only cared about certain cities and not others and when he internally was contemplating what more he might have been able to do if he had just put his camera down and used his hands in helping pull people out of the rumble. He was scared with these people and that built a connection I never imagined having while reading this book. I hurt with him and with this country.
The second half, although he was still physically there, it felt like he became disconnected. The stories evolved to become more distanced articles and just another fact finding mission. I could read articles and interviews like these anywhere, although it was nice to read everything in chronological order all in one place. I missed the emotional devastation and connection I felt in the first half and wanted that throughout. Great then just okay. Extremely educational nonetheless.
“we focus so much on the problems,” he once remarked, “we forget to acknowledge the small miracles.”
“for anyone who gave money to a major aid group, that they were going to be able to spend your $20 donation on actual survivors of the actual disaster you intended; for the most part, they were not.”