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Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the…
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Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American…

by Jed Horne

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A compelling account written shortly after Katrina, detailing the New Orleans catastrophe. Includes personal accounts of damage and survival, theories on levee breaches, and infuriating accounts of failed leadership. The Coast Guard (also affirmed in other accounts) and individual acts of rescue and recovery are the only admirable post-Katrina characters in Horne's book. La. Governor Kathleen Blanco is also exonerated as the details of her actual pre- and post-Katrina actions are reviwed and the Republican vilification of her, and Louisiana, are revealed.
  jocraddock | Aug 5, 2008 |
This is probably the first overall look at Katrina that I've read, other than maybe Cooper & Bloch's "Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security" (which was primarily focused on the federal government's response to the disaster so is not really so general).

_Breach of Faith_ is strongest when it relates personal anecdotes, when it really digs into the real-life calculus that goes into deciding whether to evacuate or not, and how the storm and resulting flood affected rich and poor equally, though in different ways.

The book ends in the spring of 2006, so already much of the recovery narrative seems somewhat dated. He talks about the mayoral election but does not discuss the outcome; regardless, Nagin's performance is not given a pass. Horne holds out his harshest criticism for the Feds, obviously, but not in the detail that Cooper and Bloch do. And for some perplexing reason, it seems Horne has a wee crush on Governor Blanco; she comes across as a shrewd tower of strenght who is merely misunderstood by the media...clearly a year's worth of Road Home headlines would have sucked the wind out of that angle if Horne could have seen into the future a little.

There's also a lot of fawning over Ivor van Heerden and Bob Bea, two characters whose reliability and motives are still open issues, in my view.

It's a worthy read simply for the stories of regular people, though. I was enthralled for those chapters, less so for the later material about floodwall forensics, Bea, Ivor, and the Corps.

(One complaint which others might find minor, but which I found highly distracting: he consistently fails to capitalize things like "coast guard", "army corps", etc., even though he is clearly talking about THE Coast Guard and THE Army Corps of Engineers. Drove me up a wall, it did. Also misspelled a few street names. Arggggg.) ( )
1 vote RayInNewOrleans | May 29, 2007 |
If you only read one book about Katrina and its aftermath, this is the one. Thoughtful, insightful, accurate (unlike Brinkley) -- Horne effectively combine intimate personal stories with historical background and the larger political and social turmoil. ( )
  Remoulade | Oct 11, 2006 |
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The big old camelback house on Lamanche Street was home to Patrina Peters, and had been for most of her forty-three years.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812976509, Paperback)

Hurricane Katrina shredded one of the great cities of the South, and as levees failed and the federal relief effort proved lethally incompetent, a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe. As an editor of New Orleans’ daily newspaper, the Pulitzer Prize—winning Times-Picayune, Jed Horne has had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama of the city’s collapse into chaos and its continuing struggle to survive.

As the Big One bore down, New Orleanians rich and poor, black and white, lurched from giddy revelry to mandatory evacuation. The thousands who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave initially congratulated themselves on once again riding out the storm. But then the unimaginable happened: Within a day 80 percent of the city was under water. The rising tides chased horrified men and women into snake-filled attics and onto the roofs of their houses. Heroes in swamp boats and helicopters braved wind and storm surge to bring survivors to dry ground. Mansions and shacks alike were swept away, and then a tidal wave of lawlessness inundated the Big Easy. Screams and gunshots echoed through the blacked-out Superdome. Police threw away their badges and joined in the looting. Corpses drifted in the streets for days, and buildings marinated for weeks in a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals that, when the floodwaters finally were pumped out, had turned vast reaches of the city into a ghost town.

Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weave a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense–all of these lives collide in a chronicle that is harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.

Even before stranded survivors had been plucked from their roofs, government officials embarked on a vicious blame game that further snarled the relief operation and bedeviled scientists striving to understand the massive levee failures and build New Orleans a foolproof flood defense. As Horne makes clear, this shameless politicization set the tone for the ongoing reconstruction effort, which has been haunted by racial and class tensions from the start.
Katrina was a catastrophe deeply rooted in the politics and culture of the city that care forgot and of a nation that forgot to care. In Breach of Faith, Jed Horne has created a spellbinding epic of one of the worst disasters of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:50 -0400)

A journalist and resident of New Orleans offers an eyewitness account of Hurricane Katrina, its devastating impact on New Orleans, and its aftermath, arguing that the origins of the disaster lie in the culture and politics of a troubled city.

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