cover image Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Don Brown. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-544-15777-4

Brown follows The Great American Dust Bowl (2013) with the story of the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans. He traces the sequence of events that left the flood levees breached and the city flooded with “a disgusting stew of oil, seawater, feces, rubber tires, foul linen, house paint, shattered lumber, and rot of all kinds.” It’s a grim, heartrending account. Thousands were stranded in venues utterly lacking in supplies or facilities. The crucial question of why the city’s African-American community suffered disproportionately is not dealt with on its face, but Brown’s artwork reflects the city’s diversity, and he recounts the victims’ indignities and outrages with deep sympathy. The author quotes President George W. Bush’s fulsome words for the head of FEMA—“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”—then observes, “The President’s praise confuses many Americans.” Lively, dynamic sketching gives the artwork a sense of urgency and immediacy. It is as important to tell the story of a nation’s failures as it is to record its triumphs, and this is a crucial contribution. Ages 12–up. Agent: Angela Miller, Miller Agency. (Aug.)