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Comment: Ex-library book with standard library markings. Book is in very good condition with a reinforced dust jacket and clean, unmarked pages.
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The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back Hardcover – August 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Wolff is the author of How Lincoln Learned to Read, a Chicago Tribune Editor's Choice pick; 4th of July, Asbury Park, a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice pick; You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke, a national bestseller; and two volumes of poetry, among other books. His writing has appeared in publications ranging from Vogue to Wooden Boat to Education Weekly. He is the co-producer, with Jonathan Demme, of several documentary film projects on New Orleans.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608194795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608194797
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,171,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
As I write this, my family in New Orleans is evacuating from another hurricane in the Gulf, unsure if it will be a false alarm or another unimaginable nightmare like Katrina. It makes me realize that what Daniel Wolff writes about in The Fight for Home is more than the study of an isolated disaster. This book looks at how we in America choose to define ourselves, how we in America respond when one of our own is decimated, and ultimately, simply, how we treat each other.

I admire Mr. Wolff for his ability to set his ego aside in this work. There is no strong narrative voice, no heavy-handed assertions from the author. He follows the lives of several New Orleanians for five years as they struggle to rebuild their home in a decimated, disoriented, often lawless city, and he lets these people speak for themselves. It is their voices that have been denied, this book seems to be saying, their voices that have immeasurable value and deserve to be heard. I couldn't agree more.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book. The whole time I was reading about the people and the neighborhoods that changed forever after Katrina I could picture my own neighborhood, my house, my job and my stuff. I can't imagine losing all those things because of a horrible storm. And to get caught up in years of waiting for repairs, living with next to nothing, fending for my self and family... the stories of survival after an unjust and extremely slow response are overwhelming. You should read this book because it's not just a New Orleans story. It's your story too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All one has been likely to see about Hurricane Katrina has been the view of government agents at all levels. Or maybe the old, established non-government organizations. Or maybe 'experts' of various stripes. This book ignores nearly all of them. Instead it focuses on a variety of residents of New Orleans and neighboring communities and their words. Sometimes these are thoughtful, sometimes cries of pain, or joy. There is thankfulness and a sense of betrayal and some of each is rather surprising. Reading this one can feel sweaty even on a cold night, or like one's hands are dirty even a thousand miles away and having never lifted a finger. Please buy and read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley.
Daniel Wolff's The Fight for Home follows various people in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans as they try to return and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Both heart-breaking and inspiring, the book's over-arching themes are the failure of federal, state, and local governments in the response to the storm and to work together to aid those most affected by the hurricane; and the determination of those same residents to "fight for home". The people Wolff focuses on are "everyday" people. Any reader will know a version at least one those New Orleans residents, if not more.

While the book does not portray the various levels of government in a positive light, it is not partisan in this respect. This tone is set at the beginning with the introduction of Pastor Mel, a man who voted for Bush twice, and who is angry at both Bush and Nagin in the Hurricane's aftermath. Pastor Mel further illustrates how both federal and local government disappointed the residents in different ways. He is angry at Bush for one reason and Nagin for another. While the failures of FEMA are pointed out, so are the failures in the rebuilding plans of the local New Orleans government as well as the cash hand-outs controlled by the state government. The truth of government as more than one level and politician parties as diverse is further enhanced by the story of Common Ground, a group founded by Malik, a former Black Panther. Suncere, a long time member of the group, notes that, to his surprise, he found local Republicans more willing to aid him than local liberals.

If Wolff shows how the levels of government failed to communicate and mismanaged the rebuilding in different ways, he also illustrates how citizens stepped in.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the surface, The Fight for Home is a gripping set of stories about people and communities struggling to rebuild in the wake of Katrina. Wolff is a first-rate stylist, as he's demonstrated previously in his biography of Sam Cooke (You Send Me, which is quite a bit better than Peter Guralnick's more widely publicized Dream Boggie); How Lincoln Learned to Read; and Fourth of July, Asbury Park. His portraits of his main figures are memorable, and he sets scenes with economy and grace. There's a mixture of determination and suffering reminiscent of the blues.

That's more than enough to justify a strong review, but Wolff goes beyond the story by incorporating a kind of shadow book focusing on the possibilities and problems of various approaches to political activism. He gives serious attention to the relationship between church-based activism, secular community organizing (based on various types of political belief), celebrity charity initiatives, and the almost-entirely ineffective government programs. He demonstrates the problems with white volunteerism in primarily black communities; probes the changing demographics of New Orleans; acknowledges the reality of infiltration and betrayal. By the time I finished, I was convinced this is a near-perfect book for would-be activists, one that provides test scenarios in their full complexity. That's close to my working definition for great fiction: it provides us with thick models of reality that allow us to think through moral and political and existential decisions before we encounter them in our lives.

One of the top half-dozen books of the year.
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