The Big Truck That Went By is, among other things, a testament to the value of journalists who are actually familiar with the countries they cover; of Searchers like Jonathan Katz, who reject the oversimplified narratives that characterize so much of crisis journalism, and know that the more time you spend in a troubled place, the harder it becomes to understand. Shortly after the earthquake, he writes, foreign journalists played a game in which they attempted to describe Haiti in a single word. “Diseased” was one entry. “Violent” was another. Katz’s response was different. “ I took the paper and wrote: HERE.”

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.