Written in Blood

by Robert Debs Heinl and Nancy Gordon Heinl. Houghton Mifflin, $21.95. After nearly three centuries of misery and abuse, the slaves of St. Domingue rose in fury and with great courage, persistence, and the help of yellow fever threw out their French masters. They then fought off the interference of England and Spain to establish an independent Haiti. It was the only successful slave rebellion in recorded history. It was also an extremely bloody and savage affair, followed by equally savage civil wars, followed in turn by a succession of incompetent and repressive Haitian regimes, for the largely illiterate population had neither practice in self-government nor any example of decent government within its experience. The Heinls tell the tragic story carefully and well, from the arrival of Columbus in 1492 to the death of the appalling “Papa Doc” Duvalier in 1971, and there is no hope in any of it. Bibliography, notes, index, appendixes, illustrations.