The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Douglas G. Brinkley, Author . Morrow $29.95 (716p) ISBN 978-0-06-112423-5

Historian Brinkley (Tour of Duty , etc.) opens his detailed examination of the awful events that took place on the Gulf Coast late last summer by describing how a New Orleans animal shelter began evacuating its charges at the first notice of the impending storm. The Louisiana SPCA, Brinkley none too coyly points out, was better prepared for Katrina than the city of New Orleans. It's groups like the SPCA, as well as compassionate citizens who used their own resources to help others, whom Brinkley hails as heroes in his heavy, powerful account—and, unsurprisingly, authorities like Mayor Ray Nagin, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former FEMA director Michael C. Brown whom he lambastes most fiercely. The book covers August 27 through September 3, 2005, and uses multiple narrative threads, an effect that is disorienting but appropriate for a book chronicling the helter-skelter environment of much of New Orleans once the storm had passed, the levees had been breached, and the city was awash in "toxic gumbo." Naturally outraged at the damage wrought by the storm and worsened by the ill-prepared authorities, Brinkley, a New Orleans resident, is generally levelheaded, even when reporting on Brown's shallow e-mails to friends while "the trapped were dying" or recounting heretofore unreported atrocities, such as looters defecating on property as a mark of empowerment. Photos. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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