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on April 17, 2016
Fascinating novel about real and diverse New Orleanians: Offers a candid connection to what their lives were and are becoming. After visiting New Orleans, I became fascinated with its rich, international, brutal, gritty and glamorous way of living a life to its fullest. The truly unique citizens there squeeze every moment of joy and triumph out of their difficult lives to keep them going with love and pride in their city and communities. This book gave me a much deeper understanding of the tenacity it takes to hang on to a city so full of corruption and injustice because it is your home. Highly, highly recommend!
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on October 20, 2015
I wanted to read the book before having a personal visit with one of the "interview-ees" in the book. It was FANTASTIC. I have done alot of volunteeer time in the Lower 9th, both before, and after Katrina. This was a beautiful, stellar, could not wait to digest every word sort of book. Engaging, sharp, and forward-moving. It perfectly places you into that miasma of beauty, culture, uniqueness, and love/pain/sorrow/joy that it is, to be there, from there. I have re-read it ten times. It is in my top three of "go-to" books because, as a volunteer there, it speaks, and resonates on such a depp level. Dan Baum did an absolutely stellar job capturing time and place. A great read, and it tells the deep abiding love of place, sorrow of place, and redemption and abiding love of place. I absolutely loved every word , and highly recommend!
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on July 29, 2011
Nine Lives is a beautiful story that follows the lives of nine New Orleanians. It starts in the 60's, when Hurricane Betsy was the "big storm" of the time. I've always heard of Betsy growing up, how devastating it was and how my grandpa had to rescue his 5 kids out of their house by walking with each one on his shoulders through the murky water.

The story then meanders through events in each person's life passing years and decades, it's a little hard to keep up with the characters at first but once they're introduced and you know their back story, it's hard to put the book down.

Then there's Katrina. This part was really hard for me to read (through tears) but it was heartbreaking and very moving.

The characters are all real people that the writer had met while covering Katrina for The New Yorker. A stoic Mardi Gras Indian chief, a transsexual bar owner, a coroner, these are but a few of the people we read about. I understand that this book is currently being developed into a musical for Broadway. I hope that happens because these stories should be heard.
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I was astonished to find myself utterly swept away by each person in this book and their background, history and journey up to Hurricane Katrina. Yes their travel through Katrina and beyond was what drew me to the book, but it was the braiding of each person's roots within the city itself that kept me turning page after page late into the night.

Watching the descent of the Lower Ninth Ward through the decades - well all of New Orleans really, from a place where poor families struggled to make ends meet and keep family values at the center of their world as the neighborhoods decayed into drug dealer owned corners where even murderers feared to tread after dark. The reasons for that collapse are varied and numerous - as in any other city around the nation. However, this book should help to shine a light on the people who care about New Orleans and her old districts and the history each one carries. They just as varied and more important than the excuses for failure before and after Katrina.

Personally I loved the Big Easy long before Katrina and my heart broke to slosh through the debris after Katrina. New Orleans is a city that accepts you foolishness and all, eccentricities and normality alike. Nine Lives is the only book I've read that offers a true look at the reality that makes New Orleans New Orleans.
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on October 16, 2017
Very interesting take about the impact of Katrina on very different---and real---people. Each person had an interesting and very different background in the same city and the book did a great job of walking us through the way each person and his loved ones lived in NOLA before, during and after the storm.
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on May 11, 2015
This book reminded me a bit of Thornton Wilder's novella Bridge of San Luis Rey, which compassionately explores the backstories of the passengers on a bus which plunges into a crevasse. Except this isn't fiction, and instead of a crevasse we have Hurricane Katrina. Although you know the hurricane is coming, and a sense of suspense about how the characters will be affected grows stronger as the book moves along, this is about much more than the hurricane. It is about the people of New Orleans - nine of them to be exact, and how their lives have unfurled over the past several decades. Dan Baum selected his characters well to represent many sides of this extraordinarily unique city, and they in turn granted him access to intimate details of their stories. He is a gifted memoirist, and tells the stories chronologically, with sections of the book devoted to different decades starting back in the 60s, and chapters about each of the nine people filling out each section. As a result, the reader gets a real sense of how New Orleans has evolved over the past half a century, and how its people have been affected by those changes. It's a difficult life for everyone for different reasons, but the book showcases the remarkable resilience they all show and their dedication to their community. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the characters, Ron Lewis, at his private museum, the House of Dance and Feathers in the Lower 9th Ward, during a recent trip to New Orleans. I highly recommend visiting Ron, and reading this book; I'll always have a special place in my heart for New Orleans as a result of both.
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on March 30, 2016
I chose this for my book group. Everyone enjoyed it, especially for non-fiction. We had some good conversation. The characters were difficult to keep track of in the beginning but you get them straight about halfway through. I found a web site that shows the real faces of each person, which was kind of cool.
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on December 18, 2016
I am not sure how factual these stories are, or if they were embellished, but I thought the book was well written and it held my interest throughout. I have visited New Orleans several times to help rebuild in the Lower 9th Ward while staying at a church in Broadmoor/Freret. It was interesting to read the back stories of the nine people from different perspectives. I found myself looking at a map to see the neighborhood where each person lived. I don't know if a person who had never visited New Orleans would get it, but I sure did!
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on October 30, 2015
This was an excellent study of the unique city of New Orleans. Nine very different individuals were the focus and all recounted life before Katrina (most decades before it), during the storm, and soon afterwards. Their love of their city regardless of their economic/social standing shone through. The presentation of this book is similar to John Berendt's Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil and Studs Terkel's Working and The Good War.
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on October 14, 2012
Nine Lives was riveting. I found myself reliving the days and years as I read them. Perhaps I found this book so enthrawling because the people are real and easily identifiable. Some people referenced, I know well. This is an accurate depiction of our wonderfully diverse city with its quirks, annoyances and charm. There is no other city in the US like New Orleans. I can see someone who is not from here wondering about the credibility of these 'lives', or even confused by these writings. The characters are real and their personallities exist to some degree in all of us. In New Orleans, we are not afraid to let these personalities come out. I urge anyone to read this book if you want a glimpse into the character and qualities, the perseverance and determination of our citizens. I couldn't put this book down until I finished it. Now, I have passed it along to others so that they may gain insight into our most unique city.
Don Turnipseed
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