From Publishers Weekly
The fatal inundation of New Orleans was no natural disaster, argues this hard-hitting investigative report. Wall Street Journal
reporters Cooper and Block finger two very man-made causes of the tragedy. The first was the decades-long failure of local officials and the Army Corps of Engineers to fix New Orleans' poorly designed and constructed levees and floodwalls, which collapsed under moderate hurricane conditions. The second and more spectacular was the breakdown of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after its incorporation into the Department of Homeland Security, which cut FEMA's funding and authority and reoriented it toward the national obsession with terrorism. The result, when the flood came, was a bumbling federal response hobbled by complacent planning, miscommunication, red tape (even recovery of the dead was delayed by paperwork) and an inability to deliver promised supplies and transportation. The authors' exhaustively researched account slogs through the intricacies of this bureaucratic nightmare and goes beyond the usual pillorying of FEMA head Michael Brown to criticize higher officials in the White House and, especially, DHS. Cooper and Block manage to thread a readable, coherent story through the morass of detail and acronyms, with disquieting implications about the government's ability to cope with catastrophe. Photos. (Aug. 8)
Note: Publication of Hamid Karzai's Letter from Kabul
(Reviews, July 10) has been postponed.
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"Tightly crafted, very readable . . . the best in-depth contemporary analysis we are going to get . . . Given that future catastrophes are inevitable, this book is a call to arms to demand a far more competent federal emergency response than Washington has been willing to provide."
--Stephen Flynn, The Washington Post