A couple weeks ago I finished reading the book The Slave Who Freed Haiti. This book is non fiction/ a biography and was written by Katharine Scherman, who I googled and is apparently an author of non-fiction. She has other books such as Catherine the Great, The Sword of Siegfried and more. I chose to read this book because I found it in my basement, also because it is my heritage (as both my parents were born in Haiti…) so I figured why not. It is was a short read with 177 pages and 24 illustrations by Adolf Dehn throughout the book.
This book is centered around Toussaint Louverture, aka the slave who freed Haiti. It highlights all of his time growing up, and how he was shaped to become the popular leader he eventually was. This story also conveys all the ups and downs the little Caribbean island went through to get one thing that should be guaranteed at birth: freedom. Slaves at the time, and the backbone of Haiti, were trying to get their freedom from France, after being taken from their homeland (Africa) with no say. All through this biography it is constantly shown how miserable slaves were, because slavery was a miserable thing. I don’t really think it is understood how bad slavery actually was (way worse than what history books in the US –for the most part– will tell you.) Anyway, this book is mainly the biography of Toussaint Louvertue, the first ruler of Haiti once they obtained their freedom, and the greatest leader Haiti’s ever had, (greater than Obama for sure.) Not only did he love his country, he put it before his life. Obviously you have to show you deserve to be on top, which Toussaint definitely did. He wasn’t just ordering all the former slaves to go fight against France, he was there fighting with them!
One reason I really enjoyed reading this book was not simply because it was about my ancestry but because although it was non fiction the author made it into a story. Not just a book spouting facts and dates, but actually placing the reader in the scenes as well. That really kept me interested in the story. This book was bias and definitely in favor of Haiti, but I can’t argue with the author’s siding. Here is a passage from the book that I feel really expresses Toussaint’s love for his country. Even though he knew many other greedy, powerful people had it out for him, in the end his heart was only in one place, his country’s well-being:
“But Toussaint stood alone, deserted and betrayed. His peaceful, harmonious little country was torn apart. The careful work of ten years was scattered to the winds. The lovely countryside was again ravaged by fire, and the rivers ran with blood. Toussaint’s dreams of a perfect free state where all would be equal was at end. He had given his whole soul to his country, and he had defeated the French who wanted to enslave it again. But his own greedy and ambitious general had destroyed him.
What was he to do next? He was not afraid. As he contemplated his own end he was sad, not for himself, but for his beloved country.”
I would give this book a 9.5 out 10, because I really fancied it, and it was an intriguing read…but there is always room for improvement.