Why The Cocks Fight

Why-The-Cocks-Fight_WuckerWhy the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola
Hill & Wang
Published 1999; paperback 2000; Kindle edition 2014
Order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apple

Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola


Like two roosters in a fighting arena, the Dominican Republic and Haiti are encircled by barriers of geography and poverty. They share one Caribbean island, Hispaniola, but their histories are as deeply divided as their cultures: one French-speaking and black, one Spanish-speaking and mulatto. And just as the owners of gamecocks contrive battles between their birds (a favorite sport in both countries) as a way of playing out human conflicts, Haitian and Dominican leaders often stir up nationalist disputes and exaggerate their cultural and racial differences as a way of deflecting other kinds of turmoil.

Michele Wucker’s vivid account of these struggles both on Hispaniola and in the United States takes us to the haunted mountains where, sixty years ago, the Dominican dictator Trujillo ordered 30,000 Haitians to be killed; to Vodou rituals in Dominican sugarcane fields where Haitians work as virtual slaves; and to the ringside of cockfights in all three countries. She focuses especially on the features in Caribbean history that are still affecting Hispaniola today, including the often contradictory policies of the United States toward both nations.

Wucker’s report on the life of Dominican and Haitian migrants in the United States is essential if we are to understand their contribution to the politics of our hemisphere.

Why the Cocks Fight

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REVIEWS

“A complex exploration of the cultural divide between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Wucker . . . weaves together five centuries of tragic conflict with a subtle picture of the island today.”  The New York Times

“A marvelous immersion experience in the clash and conciliation of cultures on a small, embattled island next door.”  Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“I have not read so spellbinding a book in a long time.” Alastair Reid

“Richly textured… A powerful cultural analysis.” Kirkus Reviews

“This is a delightful yet disturbingly relevant book; it deeply illuminates the absolute essences of human nature.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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