A Tulane University history professor traces the devastation wrought on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to nearly a century of racist and otherwise problematic public policies that put profits ahead of people as development was allowed in vulnerable swampland and the oil and gas industry ran roughshod over Louisiana's coast.
... brilliant ... his book is more than just an indictment of the disaster readiness of his precarious hometown, or a meditation on what it’s like to live in constant fear of biblical catastrophe. More than just a recounting of the history and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it is an argument for the relevance of history itself ... If you want to read only one book to better understand why people in positions of power in government and industry do so little to address climate change, even with wildfires burning and ice caps melting and extinctions becoming a daily occurrence, this is the one ... Horowitz shows—patiently and damningly—how the decisions made by Louisiana’s political and business elite systematically rendered the region vulnerable to disaster ... Horowitz...muster[s] considerable evidence to argue that the 'pain' that came from Katrina was not 'fair, or natural, or inevitable,' or the 'consequence of some external disaster. It is the disaster itself.'
... easily the best book on the subject since Douglas Brinkley’s 2006 The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Beyond delving into the tangled history of Louisiana politics, Horowitz’s book thoughtfully attempts to understand the cultural nature of these calamities ... an intriguing look at the social dynamics that so often play out in natural disasters ... the fact that Katrina’s impact fell disproportionately on poor Louisianans raises a host of issues that Horowitz addresses better than any previous narrative history of the catastrophe.
... a story that is, regrettably, extremely relevant to our current debates regarding climate change, privatization, corruption, race, and inequality. In this thoroughly researched book of history, Katrina becomes an effective and easily comprehensible symbol of the failures of those in power to prevent human suffering, despite having the tools and resources to do so ...The story of Katrina, in the hands of Horowitz, is at once energizing and horrifying in its clarity and scope. The ease of reading such a dense history immediately shows that the author has been working on this subject with care, discipline, and a deep respect for primary sources for much of his career. The ability we have to prevent many of the effects of natural disaster is well documented, here, as well as our failure to prevent those effects that are caused by mismanagement, dismissal, and greed. Politics, real estate markets, energy production, climate change, racism: these are all covered with responsibility and a focus on fact. And without forgetting the people who experienced the disaster and its impact firsthand.