Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City
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.
This is the One You're Looking For
By Susanne Koenig "mynewwritinglife.blogspot.com" - August 19, 2006
You're probably here because you are seeking coverage of this terrible, terrible disaster that is not influenced by ratings. A conscise, easy-to-follow insight that is unaffected, balanced and truthful. This is the book you're looking for.
As I am originally from New Orleans and have loved the city all my life, I was searching for the truth as well. As a full-time shelter volunteer in Mississippi, I realized--real quick--that we weren't getting accurate and unsensationalized reports on the news, save Anderson Cooper. I grew more and more frustrated with cable news, knowing that most reports bore no comparison to what I was hearing from the actual evacuees. Such shenanigans as repeated footage of one poor looted Walgreens over and over again didn't help matters any--not for the evacuees, who looked like criminals, (one thinks of the poor proud woman holding the Huggies up to her face in shame) not for the people who needed help, and certainly not for race relations in... read more
The Hurricane From Hell Meets The Bureaucracy From Hell
By C. Hutton "book maven" - July 11, 2006
Only two recent events of this young century have spawned countless books : 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. The former has the headstart in volume of books written about a man-made disaster. The latter was a hydrid disaster, part nature and part man-made. The title has several meanings. First, the breach of the levees in New Orleans; second, the loss of faith in government on a local, state and federal; and three, the title echoes T.H. White's account of an earlier loss of faith government in "Breach of Faith : The Fall of Richard Nixon" (1975), another story of an earlier loss of faith in government.
The author lived through the hurricane and his writing has an edge of anger at the incompetence throughout the disaster pre-planning and the disaster response. Unlike the much longer (716 pages) "The Great Deluge" by Douglas Brinkley, "Breach of Faith has a narrower focus on New Orleans itself (432 pages). No public figure is spared (the president, the governor, the mayor among... read more
An Extraordinary, Heartbreaking and Enraging Work of Journalism
By Louis A. Mandarini - July 19, 2006
A remarkable page-turner, Jed Horne's "Breach of Faith" has all the elements of the best journalism: vivid reporting, thorough research, fully established human characters, and an ability to boil down a vast breadth of scientific and political detail in accessible and engaging prose.
What makes Horne's book so memorable is the detail. His descriptions of floating bodies beset by water moccasins or the harrowing scene at the Convention Center or the recovery efforts for weeks and months after the storm are simply horrifying. Much of what Horne describes - from the lethal incompetence and sclerotic bureaucracy of FEMA to unrivaled heroism of many heretofore unknown private citizens - rekindles alternating currents of anger and pride in the reader.
To be sure, the canvass on which Horne paints is broad, and the cast of characters for a fairly compact book is long, indeed. Obviously, there are the notable figures of Mayor Ray Nagin, Governor Kathleen Blanco and FEMA... read more