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When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government's slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government's slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since the levees broke, we have failed to confront the disaster's true lesson: to be poor, or black, in today's ownership society, is to be left behind. Displaying the intellectual rigor, political passion, and personal empathy that have won him acclaim and fans all across the color line, Michael Eric Dyson offers a searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina. Combining interviews with survivors of the disaster with his deep knowledge of black migrations and government policy over decades, Dyson provides the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation. He explores the legacy of black suffering in America since slavery and ties its psychic scars to today's crisis. And, finally, his critique of the way black people are framed in the national consciousness will shock and surprise even the most politically savvy reader. With this clarion call Dyson warns us that we can only find redemption as a society if we acknowledge that Katrina was more than an engineering or emergency response failure. From the TV newsroom to the Capitol Building to the backyard, we must change the way we relate to the black and the poor among us. What's at stake is no less than the future of democracy.


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When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government's slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government's slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since the levees broke, we have failed to confront the disaster's true lesson: to be poor, or black, in today's ownership society, is to be left behind. Displaying the intellectual rigor, political passion, and personal empathy that have won him acclaim and fans all across the color line, Michael Eric Dyson offers a searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina. Combining interviews with survivors of the disaster with his deep knowledge of black migrations and government policy over decades, Dyson provides the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation. He explores the legacy of black suffering in America since slavery and ties its psychic scars to today's crisis. And, finally, his critique of the way black people are framed in the national consciousness will shock and surprise even the most politically savvy reader. With this clarion call Dyson warns us that we can only find redemption as a society if we acknowledge that Katrina was more than an engineering or emergency response failure. From the TV newsroom to the Capitol Building to the backyard, we must change the way we relate to the black and the poor among us. What's at stake is no less than the future of democracy.

30 review for Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    All the facts and figures with careful critical analysis of the layered causes of the failure to deal with Katrina and the effect of the catastrophe for the (mainly) black & poor people of New Orleans. While much of the book is pretty dry and mainly useful for reference from my point of view, Chapter 9 'Frames of Reference' tackled complex issues of race, class, racism and the media framing of the catastrophe of ingrained & structural anti-blackness. According to captions, while white 'residents' All the facts and figures with careful critical analysis of the layered causes of the failure to deal with Katrina and the effect of the catastrophe for the (mainly) black & poor people of New Orleans. While much of the book is pretty dry and mainly useful for reference from my point of view, Chapter 9 'Frames of Reference' tackled complex issues of race, class, racism and the media framing of the catastrophe of ingrained & structural anti-blackness. According to captions, while white 'residents' 'found food', black people 'looted'. The inclusion and analysis of quotes from diverse black survivors and supporters brought the book to life. His exposure of the cronyism behind government failing and re-implicated in the anti-black, gentrifying, poverty-entrenching 'disaster capitalism' that followed is also extremely important. Fighting this is integral to struggle against racism & poverty... The book also examines theodicy critically and seriously from a Christian perspective, which will be important for some of Dyson's audience. Here's a quote I LOVE from Martin Luther King that Dyson uses: On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will only be an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an ediface which produces beggars needs restructuring.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Given the current US President, I had almost forgotten what an inept, bigoted piece of $#!t Bush was. This book was informative, particularly about the role the local, state, and federal governments played in exacerbating the disaster. I also thought the chapter on religion was interesting. Overall it could have been written in a more engaging way, but Dyson is an academic so this was pretty good prose considering.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Come Hell or High Water by Michael Eric Dyson was a powerful and compelling book that captured the devestation, panic, racism, and over all grief that many victims experienced during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Dyson fills in the gaps of the missing stories during the terrible event, mishaps with in the Federal government and Fema, Bush's lack of respose to helping victims in need, and other politicians who failed to help the citizens of new orleans. What I liked about this book so much was Come Hell or High Water by Michael Eric Dyson was a powerful and compelling book that captured the devestation, panic, racism, and over all grief that many victims experienced during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Dyson fills in the gaps of the missing stories during the terrible event, mishaps with in the Federal government and Fema, Bush's lack of respose to helping victims in need, and other politicians who failed to help the citizens of new orleans. What I liked about this book so much was that it gave a real and true perspective of what if was like for all those victims stranded in houses engulfed in water, the fear of those who sat lying hopelessly in the Super Dome waiting for food and water for 5 days, 5 days after the storm hit. Dyson uses factual evidence to support his arguments, excerpts from politicians and victims that experienced the storm and gives it his own personal view point on the situation in between. Over all this was a very good book and for all those going to new orleans in February, this is a must read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bishop

    It took me over a month to get through this book. Although it is clearly well researched and informative, it is poorly written and struggles to entertain. I believe this content needs to be read and the struggles of neglected poor, black New Orleans citizens needs to be heard, there are much better books that this on the topic. The first third of the book was a dense, albeit informative, history of local and FEMA leadership in the time leading up to and during Katrina. A strong discussion point It took me over a month to get through this book. Although it is clearly well researched and informative, it is poorly written and struggles to entertain. I believe this content needs to be read and the struggles of neglected poor, black New Orleans citizens needs to be heard, there are much better books that this on the topic. The first third of the book was a dense, albeit informative, history of local and FEMA leadership in the time leading up to and during Katrina. A strong discussion point in the book was in chapter 9 in which the media's portrayal of Katrina is discussed. The last chapter of the book was unfortunately the weakest, full of religious bias and first person side steps in a discussion on religion's role in the Hurricane response and understanding.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tory Cross

    This book is an absolutely incredible assessment of the blatant government neglect and harm done under the Bush Administration during Hurricane Katrina. Dyson's work captures the history of segregation, racist policies, and racist implementation of FEMA and other emergency agency policies. This book is an absolutely incredible assessment of the blatant government neglect and harm done under the Bush Administration during Hurricane Katrina. Dyson's work captures the history of segregation, racist policies, and racist implementation of FEMA and other emergency agency policies.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    I saw a meme the other day that said, "On September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard coordinated the evacuation of 500,000 people from the area surrounding Ground Zero by creating a volunteer fleet of military, merchant, city and private vessels. It took just 9 hours and moved more people than the Dunkirk Evacuation at the start of WWII." Well, look what's possible when they're people who are cared about. Michael Eric Dyson does a great job of explaining just why the mostly poor, mostly black people of I saw a meme the other day that said, "On September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard coordinated the evacuation of 500,000 people from the area surrounding Ground Zero by creating a volunteer fleet of military, merchant, city and private vessels. It took just 9 hours and moved more people than the Dunkirk Evacuation at the start of WWII." Well, look what's possible when they're people who are cared about. Michael Eric Dyson does a great job of explaining just why the mostly poor, mostly black people of New Orleans were not cared about, why Kanye West's statement that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people) was pretty much accurate, that not only is there a deep history of racist neglect & violence, but it is ongoing: when evacuees tried to walk over the Mississippi Bridge into the suburb of Gretna, police fired shots over their heads to get them to turn around. In the best case scenario, the horrifically inadequate response was "just" bureaucratic incompetence. But the truly disturbing part is that there were SO MANY offers for help that were turned down. The Red Cross was told they couldn't go into New Orleans because "it might encourage people to believe it was safe to remain". The mayor of Chicago, prior to the storm, offered FEMA the use of "44 Fire Dept rescue & medical personnel & gear, over 100 Chicago police officers, 140 Streets & Sanitation workers, 146 Public Health workers, 29 trucks, 2 boats, and a mobile clinic." Of that, "FEMA only requested a single tank truck" AFTERWARD. The US Marine ship the USS Bataan was in the Gulf before Katrina, followed the hurricane into the port in order to be ready to help, had 600 hospital beds & 1200 sailors that were never called into service. The American Bus Association tried to assist with evacuation & couldn't get in touch with anyone from FEMA. Walmart trucks with bottled water were turned away. 1,000 firefighters on route were sent back. And on & on. It appears to be a much deeper problem than simply not being able to figure out the correct procedure. Dyson also give a history of the government's evolving sense of responsibility in disaster relief. In the past century or so, the buck has been passed around from agency to agency, defunded, and ultimately in the hands of an administration like GW Bush's that believes that government should be limite, it was bound to not have adequate allocation for helping those who need help the most. The focus was also shifted from natural disasters, which in the case of New Orleans was predicted by many, to terrorism, which, let's face it, is a comparatively less likely threat. Hurricanes WILL happen, every year. Just, UGH. Bush was a shithead for so many reasons, but I hope this goes on the books as one of the worst things he did. Fuck him & his 533 vacation days.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Extremely interesting book that explores that failures in preparation and response to hurricane Katrina. The bottom line is that New Oreleans was obviously ill prepared to handle such a powerful hurricane for various reasons. There is plently of blame to go around, but Dyson places a significant amount of blame on the bungling Bush adminstration for being indifferent to blacks and the poor. Secondly, by placing unqualified people (Mike Brown) in the agencies (FEMA) supposedly designed deal with Extremely interesting book that explores that failures in preparation and response to hurricane Katrina. The bottom line is that New Oreleans was obviously ill prepared to handle such a powerful hurricane for various reasons. There is plently of blame to go around, but Dyson places a significant amount of blame on the bungling Bush adminstration for being indifferent to blacks and the poor. Secondly, by placing unqualified people (Mike Brown) in the agencies (FEMA) supposedly designed deal with natural diasters or other catastrophes he only exaccerbated the pain, suffering and damaged, which hindsight shows, absoulutely could have been prevented. Lastly, and probably the most damning is his complete disregard for the well-being of African Americans and especially poor African Americans. He absolutely failed to even do a good job of diverting blame through his insincere public relations campaign. He basically didn't care what the perception of him was in regard to how he mismanaged and helped to create this calamity in the first plae.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Michael Dyson is hilarious in interviews, but it doesn't come across as well in print. Of course this is not a "funny" book, however Dyson's voice doesn't come through the way I hoped it would. I don't believe that nonfiction has to be dry because history is a story, just like any other, that should be told in a descriptive, engaging, and witty style. Dyson leans too hard on statistics and logistics; the story of Katrina gets lost in his retelling. The book is still a worthwhile read, especially Michael Dyson is hilarious in interviews, but it doesn't come across as well in print. Of course this is not a "funny" book, however Dyson's voice doesn't come through the way I hoped it would. I don't believe that nonfiction has to be dry because history is a story, just like any other, that should be told in a descriptive, engaging, and witty style. Dyson leans too hard on statistics and logistics; the story of Katrina gets lost in his retelling. The book is still a worthwhile read, especially the parts that explain how each of the players (Bush, Brownie, Nagen, etc.) fit into the puzzle. But if you're looking for the story of Katrina, you're better off checking out Spike Lee's excellent HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts and the recently released documentary Trouble the Water shot by a couple in the Lower 9th Ward through Katrina's onslaught and aftermath.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    This is a very clear explanation of the racism that influenced the Hurricane Katrina disaster: why it was mostly poor African Americans who lived in low-lying, flooded area; why these people didn't evacuate before the storm; and why did the government delay its response for five days-- and then how come that response was above all military, not humanitarian. I recommend this if you want to get a basic understanding of the structural causes of so many deaths. This is a very clear explanation of the racism that influenced the Hurricane Katrina disaster: why it was mostly poor African Americans who lived in low-lying, flooded area; why these people didn't evacuate before the storm; and why did the government delay its response for five days-- and then how come that response was above all military, not humanitarian. I recommend this if you want to get a basic understanding of the structural causes of so many deaths.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl S.

    Too many boring statistics at the beginning, I just couldn't get interested in this book although I'm very interested in the topic. Too many boring statistics at the beginning, I just couldn't get interested in this book although I'm very interested in the topic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Very good investigative report. To go along with this see Spike Lee's 2 documentaries- when the levees broke and if God is willing and the creek don't shine. Very good investigative report. To go along with this see Spike Lee's 2 documentaries- when the levees broke and if God is willing and the creek don't shine.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily Onufer

    "We can abide the ugly presence of poverty so long as it doesn't interrupt the natural flow of things, doesn't rudely impinge on our daily lives or awareness. As long as poverty is a latent reality, a solemn social fact suppressed from prominence on our moral compass, we can find our bearings without fretting too much about its awkward persistence." 3 "It should also be clear that although one may not have racial intent, one's actions may nonetheless have racial consequence." 20 "Unless we talk a "We can abide the ugly presence of poverty so long as it doesn't interrupt the natural flow of things, doesn't rudely impinge on our daily lives or awareness. As long as poverty is a latent reality, a solemn social fact suppressed from prominence on our moral compass, we can find our bearings without fretting too much about its awkward persistence." 3 "It should also be clear that although one may not have racial intent, one's actions may nonetheless have racial consequence." 20 "Unless we talk and learn about class, poverty, and color, and the distinctive fashion in which they collude to deprive people of healthy life chances, we are perpetuating a legacy of injustice." 209

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Read this for class. I did a lot of skimming for this book but I think that if I have the time, I would definitely revisit it for a more thorough read. The book delves into the hesitation, incompetency and lack of preparation of the US government and FEMA in managing and sending aid to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. It documents the racist undertones that seem to have governed this response delay and the frustrating elements of bureaucracy and the top-down command-control system of manage Read this for class. I did a lot of skimming for this book but I think that if I have the time, I would definitely revisit it for a more thorough read. The book delves into the hesitation, incompetency and lack of preparation of the US government and FEMA in managing and sending aid to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. It documents the racist undertones that seem to have governed this response delay and the frustrating elements of bureaucracy and the top-down command-control system of management within the FEMA and Bush's administration at the time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ernest Sneed

    Excellent recording of the government's response to the challenges of Katrina. It also covers the political and religious philosophical challenges that Katrina poses for America. It reflects on topics such as disaster capitalism, limited government, the prosperity gospel beliefs, mass media racism, and religious social justice responsibility. Excellent recording of the government's response to the challenges of Katrina. It also covers the political and religious philosophical challenges that Katrina poses for America. It reflects on topics such as disaster capitalism, limited government, the prosperity gospel beliefs, mass media racism, and religious social justice responsibility.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The analysis of Kanye West's comments is so wonderful that I made my students read the whole chapter. The book got a bit repetitive by the end, but it's still probably the best thing I've read about Katrina. I also learned a lot about FEMA and the history of the Department of Homeland Security. The analysis of Kanye West's comments is so wonderful that I made my students read the whole chapter. The book got a bit repetitive by the end, but it's still probably the best thing I've read about Katrina. I also learned a lot about FEMA and the history of the Department of Homeland Security.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Lowrie

    An in depth examination and critique of how race and class played a role in the many facets of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. A stark look at how the government at all levels failed the neediest of our society at the time of their greatest need.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dominic Howarth

    Illuminating and soul wrenching, Dyson takes you on a hard journey, pulling back the veil on the myths that surrounded the greatest American natural disaster of the 20th Century, how we got there, and how even today we are all implicit in it’s occurring.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Stanley

    A great quick read. Although I read it 14 years after it was written, it was a good reminder of the failures of the federal government in response to Katrina; as well as a look at how much work we still need to do for people of color and those of low income.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    The research was great, his view on theodicy often veered off into politics. He never addresses the issue biblically, which leaves his analysis purely religiously secularized.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tiarah Flores

    Very informational and shocking to say the least. But then on the other hand nothing really surprises me anymore.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samuel L.

    Great socio-economic commentary on the historical, geological, and governmental travesties surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rafael Suleiman

    A very good account of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

  23. 5 out of 5

    James

    Who else wasn't glued to their television set, or the newspapers, or their internet, or whatever, last late August into early September? It's not everyday that we see a city destroyed by a combination of a hurricane and government ineptitude. It's the second major disaster in just four years in the United States, after the attacks on the World Trade Center that killed 2000 people. Hurricane Katrina and the lackluster FEMA response killed 1,836, plus 705 people unaccounted for, as of May 19th, 20 Who else wasn't glued to their television set, or the newspapers, or their internet, or whatever, last late August into early September? It's not everyday that we see a city destroyed by a combination of a hurricane and government ineptitude. It's the second major disaster in just four years in the United States, after the attacks on the World Trade Center that killed 2000 people. Hurricane Katrina and the lackluster FEMA response killed 1,836, plus 705 people unaccounted for, as of May 19th, 2006. There was a rapid response to 9-11 attacks, when the victims were mostly white affluent people. There was a slow, too-little, too late response to Hurricane Katrina, when the victims were mostly poor and black. Today, fewer than half of New Orlean's population has returned, since many of them have nothing to return to. Michael Eric Dyson, the author of "Is Bill Cosby Right?", writes in "Come Hell or High Water" of the meaning of the disaster. While it is true that Bush, Mike Brown, and local Louisiana politicians did not cause Hurricane Katrina, (though the magnitude of the hurricane was most likely highly worsened by global climate change), they certainly were responsible for the hundreds of thousands of people being stranded in New Orleans when help started arriving nearly five days afterwards. Dyson spends much time exploring the cultural response of the mainstream to the hurricane, with the glaring implications of race in America. In a desperate situation with little hope for help, people in New Orleans began to take food from stores which had been abandoned in the wake of the hurricane. The media shortly separated the Black people trying to feed themselves into "looters" and the whites as "finding food". An absurd amount of attention became focused on people using the opportunity to take televisions and radios, though the media ignores the fact that people may have sold these appliances later on for food. The disaster of the Superdome, where 30,000 people waited for days while the Red Cross was turned away by the national guard because New Orleans was "too dangerous" (which later turned out to be mostly based on rumor.) Hurricane Katrina seemed like the world turned upside down, but it really just brought already messed up situations, like white supremacy and capitalism, to be magnified ten-fold. I keep wondering why they didn't just evacuate everyone, and it turns out that Amtrak offered to provide free trains, but the city turned it down. The Levees weren't funded properly, leading to detoriation and busting up. FEMA didn't know what was going on, and followed every little procedure by the book, leading to necessary help not happening for days (for instance, FEMA officials were instructed not to help any locals unless they asked for help.) Later, a Lousina representative declared (off-the record) "We finally cleared up that public housing problem…" For a step-by-step detailed look into what happened in the Deep South in August of 2005, pick this up, and prepare to shake your head in bewilderment at the people who run the United States. Reggie Bush or no, New Orleans has been forever changed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Weavre

    Excellent! By the end of the first chapter, I was thoroughly irritated with Dyson's analysis. He seemed to have an oversimplified perspective that saw black people as targeted victims of privileged whites, both ignoring the existence of impoverished people of other races and contradicting himself in acknowledging the existence of privileged blacks. I'm glad I kept reading, though: In Chapter 9, "Frames of Reference," he laid out exactly the kind of more nuanced analysis of the interrelationship o Excellent! By the end of the first chapter, I was thoroughly irritated with Dyson's analysis. He seemed to have an oversimplified perspective that saw black people as targeted victims of privileged whites, both ignoring the existence of impoverished people of other races and contradicting himself in acknowledging the existence of privileged blacks. I'm glad I kept reading, though: In Chapter 9, "Frames of Reference," he laid out exactly the kind of more nuanced analysis of the interrelationship of race and class that had been tumbling about in my mind for the last 150 pages or so. Ultimately, though, this is a clear narrative of the failures both before and after the hurricane that led to the Katrina disaster. Race and class play inherent roles in the story, of course, but this isn't just another rant of victimization. It's a lucid, exhaustively footnoted account of an incident that revealed much of the truth of our current social structure, and also shines a bright light on the personal triumphs that emerged amidst so much anguish. The last actual chapter (or penultimate chapter, if you count the long and preachy afterward), "Supernatural Disasters?" is a bit of somewhat narcissistic apology and exploration into God's role in the Katrina disaster. While so many of the publicly religious did interpret the storm in terms of God's wrath against the sinful or salvation of the pure, and many others sought answers to why a good, powerful God would send or allow such a storm, send or allow such a rotten human response to it, and so forth, this chapter was a pedantic waste of energy. Sometimes, a hurricane is just a hurricane, and no god or God gets the blame for the callous indifference of the powerful to the suffering of the powerless. Even with the bookend disappointments of the book's opening and closing, it's still getting four stars for all the good narrative and analysis between them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jill W

    After Hurricane Katrina occurred I want to know more about the city and which places were affected and I also wanted to know about the people of New Orleans. I had so many questions and I had no one to answer them. While reading this book I most of the questions I had were answered. For example why didn’t people leave, why did they stay if they knew Katrina was coming? The author tells the facts about racism, poverty and injustice during that rough time in those people’s lives. Those facts and s After Hurricane Katrina occurred I want to know more about the city and which places were affected and I also wanted to know about the people of New Orleans. I had so many questions and I had no one to answer them. While reading this book I most of the questions I had were answered. For example why didn’t people leave, why did they stay if they knew Katrina was coming? The author tells the facts about racism, poverty and injustice during that rough time in those people’s lives. Those facts and stories told by citizens of New Orleans still go through my mind and it would be hard to forget just thinking that struggles such as racism and injustice still continues even in times of distress like Katrina. The author captures the reader’s attention by using ethos, logos, and pathos to explain what the victims were going through. I learned that you can not judge those victims in New Orleans that stayed without knowing what truly went on.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Wow - Michael Eric Dyson is *preaching* in this book. It's a somewhat painful read, as he goes minute by minute through the Katrina disaster and our government's various misteps that led to so much avoidable death and destruction. It's worth revisiting the details, though, considering how quickly Katrina and it's survivors left the national consciousness. He raises many important points about class and race and what we as Americans need to do not just in the face of a national crisis, but in our Wow - Michael Eric Dyson is *preaching* in this book. It's a somewhat painful read, as he goes minute by minute through the Katrina disaster and our government's various misteps that led to so much avoidable death and destruction. It's worth revisiting the details, though, considering how quickly Katrina and it's survivors left the national consciousness. He raises many important points about class and race and what we as Americans need to do not just in the face of a national crisis, but in our everyday lives to bring about social justice for all. My only critique would be his somewhat rambling style - while the book is loosely structured to recount the story in chronological order, he does tend to skip around during the actual week of the storm which can make some of his points hard to follow. If you can handle that, an important and well-researched read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey Langland

    The author's basic premise is that poor people of color unfairly bore the brunt of the tragedy in Katrina because of decades of prejudice - a lack of response that was exacerbated by the Bush istration. The book was written in 2006 and it feels very dated already (there was a passage which contains a quote about that sharp Senator Obama), and it's weird to read about the Bush istration in the present tense. There is still a lot of anger in the book, which is justified. And some of what he predict The author's basic premise is that poor people of color unfairly bore the brunt of the tragedy in Katrina because of decades of prejudice - a lack of response that was exacerbated by the Bush istration. The book was written in 2006 and it feels very dated already (there was a passage which contains a quote about that sharp Senator Obama), and it's weird to read about the Bush istration in the present tense. There is still a lot of anger in the book, which is justified. And some of what he predicted has unfortunately come true, like the complete destruction of public housing, and the refusal to re-open Charity Hospital. The book was kind of pedantic and reads like a dry textbook (the author is a professor at Penn, so it's not surprising). I can't say I really liked it, and I did a lot of skimming.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    After the very long weening-off process between myself and both national and current news programs, I began the trek of weening myself from books, articles and documentaries regarding Hurricane Katrina. But then Mr. Dyson (whom I've always had a respect for) came out with Come Hell or High Water and I had to pick it up. It's a quick read FULL of factual information on the devastation and aftermath of the storm on both the natural and the human sides. I particularly like the way Dyson puts Kanye After the very long weening-off process between myself and both national and current news programs, I began the trek of weening myself from books, articles and documentaries regarding Hurricane Katrina. But then Mr. Dyson (whom I've always had a respect for) came out with Come Hell or High Water and I had to pick it up. It's a quick read FULL of factual information on the devastation and aftermath of the storm on both the natural and the human sides. I particularly like the way Dyson puts Kanye West's infamous "Bush hates black people" remark into perspective. My only beef with this one is that, in true Dyson-style, his writing gets a little too over-dramatic for my tastes; none-the-less I think this is one of the better Katrina-related books that I have read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pascale

    This book is a record of the government’s embarrassing ineptitude and lack of care for its citizens. The author examines the way race relations were at play during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how they influenced the government’s slow response in New Orleans, including the history of government intervention for natural catastrophes, relief efforts, who gets national attention (and who doesn’t), the media portrayal of the evacuees, how reactions to racial issues are perceived depending This book is a record of the government’s embarrassing ineptitude and lack of care for its citizens. The author examines the way race relations were at play during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how they influenced the government’s slow response in New Orleans, including the history of government intervention for natural catastrophes, relief efforts, who gets national attention (and who doesn’t), the media portrayal of the evacuees, how reactions to racial issues are perceived depending on skin color, etc. Reading this book, I realized that my attitude in regards to race has often been complacent (well, it was, for sure, until September 2005, seeing masses of poor people suffering and left to fend for themselves in New Orleans).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    This read more like a dissertation, bogging down with statistics and facts, about twenty pages of endnotes and references, and a huge, huge bias. I understand the statistics of race and poverty, but I have a difficult time reading a book that has completely shut out any discussion or possibility of another viewpoint. Even though I agreed with the vast majority of what I did read (I could not finish this, but skimmed it), I did not like the tone -- it damaged the message. For those interested in t This read more like a dissertation, bogging down with statistics and facts, about twenty pages of endnotes and references, and a huge, huge bias. I understand the statistics of race and poverty, but I have a difficult time reading a book that has completely shut out any discussion or possibility of another viewpoint. Even though I agreed with the vast majority of what I did read (I could not finish this, but skimmed it), I did not like the tone -- it damaged the message. For those interested in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, race, poverty, and the social and political issues involved, I'd recommend "Five Days at Memorial" instead. A hard pass on this one.

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