The hidden history of the haunted and beloved city of New Orleans, told through the intersecting lives of nine remarkable characters.
“Nine Lives is stunning work. Dan Baum has immersed himself in New Orleans, the most fascinating city in the United States, and illuminated it in a way that is as innovative as Tom Wolfe on hot rods and Truman Capote on a pair of murderers. Full of stylistic brilliance and deep insight and an overriding compassion, Nine Lives is an instant classic of creative nonfiction.” —Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan Baum brings the kaleidoscopic portrait to life, showing us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.
BONUS: This edition contains a Nine Lives discussion guide.
Reporter Baum (Citizen Coors) arrived in New Orleans two days after the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina. He admits his initial accounts of the disaster were flawed, but with this captivating collection of nine linked profiles, Baum has rectified what he claims was his narrow interpretation of events. "While covering Katrina and its aftermath for the New Yorker, I noticed that most of the coverage, my own included, was so focused on the disaster that it missed the essentially weird nature of the place where it happened." Baum begins the narrative with the 1965 battering of the Ninth Ward by Hurricane Betsy and concludes in 2007. He captures the essence of the city "through the lives of nine characters over 40 years, bracketed by two epic hurricanes," people such as Billy Grace, the king of Carnival and member of New Orleans' elite; Tim Bruneau, the city cop haunted by images of Katrina's destruction; and transsexual JoAnn Guidos, who finds a home and, following Katrina, a sense of purpose. Baum, an empathetic storyteller, has nearly perfectly distilled the events, providing readers with a sensuous portrait of a place that can be better understood as "the best organized city in the Caribbean rather than the "worst organized city in the United States." Baum's chronicle leaves readers with a bittersweet understanding of what Americans lost during Hurricane Katrina.
Great book about nine different people who lived in New Orleans most of their lives. They came from all walks of life, black, white, rich, poor, even transgendered. A good peek into New Orleans itself, before, during and after one of the worst natural disasters in history.