The Dead Yard

The Dead Yard

A Story of Modern Jamaica

Book - 2011
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Named the Dolman Travel Book of the Year, The Dead Yard paints an unforgettable portrait of modern Jamaica. Since independence, Jamaica has gradually become associated with twin images--a resort-style travel Eden for foreigners and a new kind of hell for Jamaicans, a society where gangs control the areas where most Jamaicans live and drug lords like Christopher Coke rule elites and the poor alike.

Ian Thomson's brave book explores a country of lost promise, where America's hunger for drugs fuels a dependent economy and shadowy politics. The lauded birthplace of reggae and Bob Marley, Jamaica is now sunk in corruption and hopelessness. A synthesis of vital history and unflinching reportage, The Dead Yard is "a fascinating account of a beautiful, treacherous country" ( Irish Times ).

Publisher: New York : Nation Books, 2011, c2009
ISBN: 9781568586564
Branch Call Number: 972.9206 THO
Characteristics: xviii, 370 p. ; 21 cm.


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Aug 03, 2011

An excellent book about Jamaica, well written by a man interested in all the diverse aspects of the Jamaica. He talks about his travels around the country and about the people he meets. He writes about Jamaica's relationship to Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Egypt whose original name was Ras Tafari (his followers are called Rastafarians). The author also gives insight into the history of Jamaica, its religions and language, music, and scenery. But he doesn't shy away from the serious problems that still prevail: rampant violence, a pervasive drug culture, women's oppression, entrenched police corruption and the persistence of classism and racism. One person he interviewed was so disdainful of the widespread corruption that he used the term "politricks" . Ironically, once the country achieved its independence from Britain, many of the old British ways remained including a society divided by variations in skin color, this despite a high rate of interracial sex and marriage. Even today the relationships between the majority black population and the minority Chinese and East Indian populations, not to mention the white Jamaican population, are often uneasy and tense. Sadly the lighter one's skin, the higher one is likely to go in Jamaican society. Among many, there is a disdain for anything African, although most of the people descended from Africans brought to Jamaica as slaves. Although I loved the book, I would've appreciated a map and maybe some photographs. Although tourism was mentioned briefly, I think its impact should have been explored more deeply. Also, the author totally neglected to tell the story of the Indigenous Indian populations that were the first Jamaicans. Other than that, I would highly recommend the book.

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