Having lived in Haiti my whole life, I am generally skeptical of anything that a foreigner writes, sings, or says about Haiti. However, Michael Heinl, the third generation of Heinls to pick up where the previous one left off, has a deep understanding of the Haitian people, a notable trait essential to continuing such a legacy.
Robert Debs Heinl was (I believe, I can't find the book in my closet) a U.S. Marine who felt impelled to write a detailed history about this little country. Historians seem to lack friends here, though, he was declared "persona non grata" by the infamous "Papa Doc," presumably for getting a little too close to the truth of the horror that personified that regime. Son Michael provides two additional chapters: one on "Baby Doc," Duvalier's inept son, Jean-Claude, and another slightly condensed chapter on the post-Duvalierist anarchy, the international embargo, and the U.S. intervention in 1994.
Beginning in 1492, with Columbus' discovery of the island he would christen Española (little Spain), the book continues on to French colonization, the bloody revolution of 1791, independence and isolation during the 19th century, anarchy during the early part of the 20th, dictatorship from the 50's to the 80's, and the modern state of anarchy, environmental depletion, and overpopulation. It gives the history of the independent Haitian state in remarkable detail, considering there are not very many written records remaining. Most of the stories and images in the book were gleaned from international museums and libraries, and word-of-mouth accounts from old-timers among the aristocracy and the commonfolk.
Written in Blood describes in detail the horrors of various regimes, never flinching at bloody details, and brutal acts of violence, one of the attributes that earned Robert Debs Heinl "persona non grata" status from François Duvalier. It is not for the weak of heart or the weak of stomach.