Ten years in the making, Gary Rivlin’s Katrina is “a gem of a book—well-reported, deftly written, tightly focused….a starting point for anyone interested in how The City That Care Forgot develops in its second decade of recovery” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana. A decade later, journalist Gary Rivlin traces the storm’s immediate damage, the city of New Orleans’s efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm’s lasting effects not just on the area’s geography and infrastructure—but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of one of this nation’s great cities.
Much of New Orleans still sat under water the first time Gary Rivlin glimpsed the city after Hurricane Katrina as a staff reporter for The New York Times. Four out of every five houses had been flooded. The deluge had drowned almost every power substation and rendered unusable most of the city’s water and sewer system. Six weeks after the storm, the city laid off half its workforce—precisely when so many people were turning to its government for help. Meanwhile, cynics both in and out of the Beltway were questioning the use of taxpayer dollars to rebuild a city that sat mostly below sea level. How could the city possibly come back?
“Deeply engrossing, well-written, and packed with revealing stories….Rivlin’s exquisitely detailed narrative captures the anger, fatigue, and ambiguity of life during the recovery, the centrality of race at every step along the way, and the generosity of many from elsewhere in the country” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Katrina tells the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age. This is “one of the must-reads of the season” (The New Orleans Advocate).
A decade after Hurricane Katrina wreaked unprecedented destruction upon New Orleans, journalist Rivlin (Broke, USA) looks back at the fall and rebuilding of the Big Easy. It's a sprawling, epic tale, filled with cold numbers and heartbreaking scenes of loss and devastation. It's also an insightful, accessible saga that follows a wide cast of participants including politicians, businessmen, and everyday residents over the course of many years. Rivlin addresses the city's history leading up to Katrina's landfall, examines how the hurricane transformed the region, and then settles in for the long, arduous rebuilding process. He doesn't pull punches as he looks at the political, economic, and social aspects of New Orleans's struggle to recover, nor does he shy away from the complicated racial themes that have always been a part of the city's history. Rivlin writes from firsthand experience as a journalist first sent to report on the storm's immediate aftermath, and he skillfully balances out the human elements with concrete details of the devastation and the reconstruction that has followed. For those interested in how New Orleans came to the brink of destruction and slowly fought its way back to become a thriving, even improved, metropolis, this is certainly a work worth checking out.