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Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast » User review

Down in the flood

  • Dec 14, 2010
Brinkley writes what must be the definitive history of the hurricane by pouring a torrent of well-craft words to tell the story of the surreal man-made disaster that followed. I was spurred to read more about Katrina by Rising Tide, John Barry's history of the 1927 Mississippi flood, where his tales of unsteady levees, technical and political infighting, and racism before and after the deluge foretold with frightening prescience so much of what was to come.

While not the visceral shock that branded the events of 9/11 on most American's conscious, Katrina still left a deep impression of fragility and doom. I remember at work (back in those days, before we all worked from home) hearing rumors coursing through the building of gasoline shortages and $4 a gallon prices. We all ran out at lunch to join lines at the gas pumps to find the precious fuel that Katrina had cut off.

But while I read the reports of flooding and rescues and looting, it didn't make much impact then. Brinkley tells the story with great narrative power, mining the official accounts, media accounts, and his own interview with the participants, both rescuers and rescued. And indeed his story is mostly about the man-made disaster triggered by Katrina. Local, state, and federal governments were at odds, often incompetent, and willing to play politics while stranded citizens died. Even the Red Cross was overwhelmed by the magnitude of Katrina. Indeed, one that that comes through in Brinkley's account is the sheer magnitude of the post-Katrina devastation and the difficulty of getting relief and starting recovery in such a vast area with so much devastation to communication and transportation infrastructure.

So one need not posit complete incompetence and political ignorance to post blame for the wasted week and wasted words that wasted lives after Katrina. But one would also need to be either color-blind or stupid not to see the racism that slowed and shaped the rescue response in New Orleans. It is a sad and horrific part of a story that doesn't need any more horror to be historic.

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review by . August 02, 2007
Brinkley, Douglas. "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast", Harper Perennial, 2006.    Having Been There    Amos Lassen and Literary Pride    Two years ago at this time we knew the name Katrina as a beautiful feminine name. Suddenly on August 27, that changed and Katrina became known as one of the great disasters of the world. I know that to be true--I was there--and so was Douglas Brinkley who …
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Todd Stockslager ()
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I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this book


Bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley, a professor at Tulane University, lived through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina with his fellow New Orleans residents, and now inThe Great Delugehe has written one of the first complete accounts of that harrowing week, which sorts out the bewildering events of the storm and its aftermath, telling the stories of unsung heroes and incompetent officials alike. Get a sample of his story--and clarify your own memories--by looking through thedetailed timelinehe has put together of the preparation, the hurricane, and the response to one of the worst disasters in American history.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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ISBN-10: 0061148490
ISBN-13: 978-0061148491
Author: Douglas Brinkley
Genre: Outdoors & Nature, History, Science
Publisher: Harper Perennial
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"Having Been There"
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