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Abstract

Historians of Haiti have tended to focus on the Haitian Revolution, the U.S. occupation and the Duvalier regime, leaving room for Matthew Smith to pioneer a study of turbulent politics and conflict in post-occupation Haiti. The complexity of the political changes in post-occupation Haiti from 1934-1957 led Smith to interrogate new sources in order to provide a more complete history of this period, building upon works such as David Nicholls’ From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti and Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Haiti, State Against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalierism. Smith’s book provides a broader perspective on Haitian politics by arguing that these radical movements were more complex than color differences that David Nicholls noted. Smith’s methodology successfully employs the use of archival research, audio-visual sources, and interviews with participants in radical political movements of this era, demonstrating the thorough research the author has conducted to complete this book. The colors red and black in Smith’s title refer to the Marxist and noiriste movements respectively and Smith’s book examines how they transformed Haiti’s political culture. Although these radical movements had a great impact on Haitian politics, they failed to move beyond their own internal rivalries to establish a strong independent future for post-occupied Haiti.

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