The gloomy story of a country dogged by poverty, tyranny, racism, and natural disasters. In its day, Haiti was possibly the richest European colony in this hemisphere (and the second one to declare its independence); now it is one of the world's poorest, most densely populated lands, its history packed with violence, foreign invasions, dictators, and tension between blacks and the lighter-skinned mulattoes. The author parades Haiti's rulers and heroes in a clear, organized way, but she shows most of them to be either weak or corrupt, their few improvements usually wiped away by crop failure, storm, or war. She describes Haitian culture, especially voodoo, in general terms; otherwise, her narrative is historical, concluding with the 1986 flight of Duvalier. Haitian immigration to the US is mentioned only in passing. As usual in Watts' ""First Books,"" the black-and-white illustrations are dark and murky--and, in this case, sparse. Glossary, index, no bibliography (hardly surprising, considering the paucity of recent books for young people on the subject). A solid, timely update, but not reassuring reading.