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Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City First Edition, 1st Printing Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400065523
ISBN-10: 1400065526
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Horne, metro editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, writes with the clipped, raw urgency of a thriller writer in this humanist account of what happened after the levees broke. As already widely reported, residents who ignored the mandatory evacuation order (thinking "Katrina... had all the makings of a flop") quickly found themselves surrounded by bloated corpses floating in toxic floodwaters and without a consolidated rescue effort. Horne quickly moves past the melodrama of a striking disaster to recount the stories of individuals caught in the storm's hellish aftermath or mired in the government's hamstrung response: a Louisiana State University climatologist goes head-to-head with the Army Corps of Engineers over inadequate flood protection and faulty levees; a former Black Panther provides emergency health care at a local mosque. Horne saves his sharpest barbs for President Bush and the Department of Homeland Security ("if Homeland Security... was what stood between America and the next 9/11, then... America was in deep trouble") for failing to muster an appropriate response. Big disasters spawn big books, and though Horne's isn't the definitive account, it's an honest, angry and wrenching response to a massively bungled catastrophe. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Jed Horne, metro editor for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, uses his knowledge of the devastated area to his advantage. In Breach of Faith, he tells some compelling, important stories, despite the amount of coverage that Hurricane Katrina has received over the past year. While the book dutifully describes the events surrounding the disaster, Horne's journalistic skill works against him on occasion. He renders his scenes sharply, if sometimes without passion (as Ceci Connolly puts it, "I found myself yearning for the soul of the Katrina story, the smelly, quirky, gut-wrenching, deadly truth of a city disintegrating"). Most critics find that Horne has created a readable—and sometimes powerful—record of the event.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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 America. Anoterh case in point: Gerlado on Fox News holding up a baby on I-10. I would have much rather seen footage of Geraldo looting a Wallgreens in an effort to get some baby formula, but otherwise this parade of news was sadly misreprentative of the actual event and really didn't help anything but the advertisers.

Which is one reason I had such enormous and overwhelming affection for the folks at the Times-Picayune, the vernerable and ancient daily paper of New Orleans. They never, ever missed an issue--not one day, even as the lower floors were flooded. As my specialty in the shelter was helping evacuees with the internet, I repeatedly turned to the Times-Picayune website.
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Format: Hardcover
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 others) and Fema is single out above all other governmental for ineptness. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard did an outstanding job preparing for the hurricane and rescuing the residents afterwards. With a "you are there" writing style and countless stories to tell, Mr. Horne does a superb job of telling the story of how a great city nearly died.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel this book gives a unique perspective from someone who has the skills to relay the story in a readable fashion. As a person who is living in Baton Rouge, I can tell you what he says is more straightforward than most of the stories and articles I've read and heard to date.
What I can add to his story is this: some of the reason why many did not leave New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina that nobody has mentioned so far. Within a year and a half prior to the Katrina, New Orleans citizens had been asked to evacuate the city no less than (approximately) three times because of other storms that had appeared to be heading to the city, but at the last minute had taken a different track. To evacuate this often is an expensive and difficult thing to do for folks living paycheck to paycheck with limited income. Hurricane Katrina was just one of the many "storms of the century" that appeared to be making a beeline for New Orleans. Other storms, including Hurricane Ivan, had turned at the last moment. Several years of this, including one storm just some years ago which had the same potential as Katrina, but as it made landfall dropped from a category 3 to a category 1 (or 2, I can't remember which)-can cause many folks to begin to ignore the message. Many folks were under the impression this was just another over-calculation by the authorities. After all, they had dodged the bullet many many times in the last thirty-odd years.

After Hurricane Katrina moved out of Louisiana and the winds begin to drop and with the power out, a friend and I ventured forth to find a store or drive thru open to get something to eat.
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Format: Hardcover
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 Director Michael Brown, but there is also a battery of Lower Ninth Ward residents, Uptown residents and French Quarter residents, firefighters, community activists, doctors, nurses, engineers, former public officials, politicians and others. There are also a number of smaller figures whose stories round out the coverage masterfully. One such figure is a lawyer from Massachusetts who, along with his wife, had been dropping his teenage son off to begin college at Loyola when Katrina struck. Horne's treatment of that lawyer's terrible experience, as well as the incorporation of a pseudo-diary that the lawyer kept throughout the storm and its aftermath, make for electrifying reading.
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