Voodoo, self-proclaimed emperors, and an ubiquitous death squad are just a few of the ingredients that helped set the unusual course of the world's first black republic. In this excellent, compact history, Ferguson looks to Haiti's turbulent past to find the ground laid for the infamous Duvalier dictatorship that held the country in its iron grip until forced from power by a popular revolt in 1986. Ferguson shows how Haiti's history of corruption, megalomania, foreign domination, and exploitation continues--in altered form--to this day. He cites how the traditional enmity between blacks and mulattoes, which fueled the bloody coups and political schisms of colonial times, also led to the downfall of Baby Doc Duvalier's regime. Similarly, he traces the origins of Haiti's staggering foreign debt to 1825, when the country ""bought"" its independence from France for a sum that plunged it into economic servitude to its former master for nearly a century. Is Haiti's future shackled to its past? Not completely, says Ferguson. While in the next few years Haiti might expect the usual election fraud, US interference, and economic opportunism among the elite, the tide has turned. Angry and desperate, Haitians initiated a wave of reform in 1985; a little electoral skullduggery or US string-pulling is not about to stem it.