cover image The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back

The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back

Daniel Wolff. Bloomsbury, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60819-479-7

The destruction left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is only the starting point for the social drama that unfolds in Wolff’s (How Lincoln Learned to Read) grassroots-oriented investigation of the rebuilding of New Orleans’ most underprivileged and underrepresented neighborhoods. The controversy surrounding the initial federal government response during the disaster is supported by indications of continuing business-government corruption and economic exploitation during the reconstruction phase, though Wolff also details the remarkable contribution made by neighbors, pastors, former Black Panthers, and other volunteers and citizen organizations. Between these two sides is a battle line dividing competing maps and futures for the city and its inhabitants. Wolff’s impressive research utilizes dozens of interviews with community members and organizers collected over five years beginning in early 2006—including with members of Common Ground, a direct-democracy organization made up mostly of young volunteers from out of state, some of whom are veteran activists from the antiglobalization movement. Wolff’s reportage concentrates on the empowering, if also difficult, coordination across regional, racial, and class lines to provide basic aid and services to the largely African-American communities of the city’s devastated Ninth Ward, as well as a serious bid among such individuals and organizations to realize a future in which diversity and solidarity are the strength of a city and a society. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (Aug.)