In a world roiled by such dire threats as religious extremism, killer tornadoes and untreatable new viruses, one danger invariably outstrips all of them combined: greed. The massive January 2010 earthquake that reduced Haiti to a sea of mud, misery, rape and rubble generated an almost equally seismic tide of relief and recovery cash donations — more than $3.5 billion. Yet more than three years later, most of the tormented souls affected by the earthquake remain as stricken as ever. Author Jonathan M. Katz's shocking new book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, scrapes off a thick scab of shameful exploitation with surgical precision. For instance, as WikiLeaks would later reveal, just weeks after the incident, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten cabled a report back to Washington titled “THE GOLD RUSH IS ON.” The majority of dough, naturally, went not to Haitian-based organizations that could provide immediate relief, but rather to D.C. contractors. As the sole full-time American journalist in Haiti at the time, Katz not only felt the devastating temblor but subsequently watched the entire scam unfold. Only mankind could compound the damage of a such a terrible natural disaster but, as Katz's penetrating account makes clear, we did a first-rate job of it. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., June 26, 7 p.m.; free, book is $26. (626) 449-5320,

Wed., June 26, 7 p.m., 2013

LA Weekly