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on February 18, 2016
A retweet posted on my twitter feed while I was reading Zeitoun underlined the importance of this book. Someone in law enforcement was indignant at a memo saying basically to quit harassing Muslims. If the original poster couldn't understand what would bring about a blanket policy like that he needs to read Zeitoun carefully and see a short documentary called Entrapped. Entrapped is produced by Laura Poitras who got bamboozled by Fairy Tale Snowden but Entrapped isn't gaga with hero worship like Citizen ''''''. There. Surely you quit reading when someone suggested that your hero is living in a fantasy delusion that you believe with all your heart no matter how implausible most of his story is when examined step by step. Zeitoun walked out of prison emaciated. Snowden walked out of SVO airport after 40 days and nights, clean, pressed, showered, no weight loss or gain or visible change in fitness after nothing but Burger King according to Sarah H. Conclusion: There was no 40 days and nights stay at SVO. He was living his usual lifestyle in a new location.

I was worried that Zeitoun would give the miscreants too much power and let them disrupt his faith. Read it yourself to find out what happened in that respect.

Zeitoun went on to rebuild New Orleans while law enforcement headed up by FEMA during Katrina got a well-deserved expose for the incompetent, evil, thieving sabotage they inflicted upon citizens who didn't evacuate. I was once in a town that was evacuated. I couldn't wait to get out but there are always people who will not leave. They stay for the multitude of reasons Zeitoun stayed (to protect their property, to see what happens, to help).

The Greyhound bus station, oil stained pavement and all, was turned into a makeshift prison before anyone who could be rounded up was transported to a prison that considered them not their problem. All standard rules like prisoners being allowed a phone call were ignored. Health care basically didn't exist. Prisoners who didn't eat pork could go hungry.

I basically support law enforcement. We need them. Most of them work hard at a job that anyone is free to criticize but when they become the problem it is important that someone (Eggers-- Zeitoun was helpless behind bars) dares take them on.
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on December 26, 2015
I am not sure my review will be published as it is very inflammatory. But I hope Mr. Eggers will read it. He has done a brilliant job describing the horrific bigotry and discrimination still rampant in much of the South. And FEMA representatives found a willing partner in them after Katrina.

Eggers describes the city perfectly ! The Napoleon St. Charles corner is so famous as the parade routes routinely turn toward the Garden District there. And it is only blocks from Memorial Hospital, where many patients were "euthanized" shortly before they could have been rescued (this is not an indictment against the staff. I don't know what I would have done were I in their shoes). Eggers refers to this incident, and to the nursing home in the Ninth Ward whose owners left via roof top and were criticized for abandoning their residents. Again, no aspersions here.

But I was shocked by the prison so rapidly assembled by Angola convicts for FEMA/New Orleans. None of my friends who lived in NOLA whenI did, and left for similar reasons, knew of this totally degrading place. But now, because of Eggers, they will ! I only pray that this book will help prevent this type of barbarism IN OUR COUNTRY in the future.

Anti- Muslim ? Read about this brave, proud man who remained in America despite the horrific torture and humiliation imposed on him.

I strongly recommend James Lee Burkes "Tin Roof Blowdown " after you read this book. All of Burke's New Orleans books are fantastic, but thus one is about Katrina. The real nitty gritty street scene. But Burke didn't write about Camp Greyhound. How did Eggers find out about Zeitune and the Camp ?
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on June 7, 2013
I give it 3 stars because it was a well written book. It was our book club selection and itt kept our attention throughout. The image of Zeitoun was one of a caring man who went beyond to give assistance to those most affected by the hurricane. His devotion to the stranded dogs was amazing. This is the character we all came to admire. We became involved in his life and the secondary characters as well. But then.......

it was discovered that his actual persona was not in keeping with his written one. It turns out that he is far from the caring and admirable person portrayed in the book. That may be one part of him but there's another side that is far different. Once we had this information our feelings about him changed completely.
As a group we were disappointed and felt like we had been deceived by the book's portrayal. It cast a pall over any further discussion of the book.
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on December 4, 2013
A moving story about the abuses of law and enforcement in New Orleans immediately following the devastation of the city by Hurricane Katrina as it bears upon a single Muslim family. The criticism of the disconnect between FEMA, the military, and local authorities is detailed and the results are horrendous, effectively "breaking" the spirit and health of both husband and wife with its inhumanity. However, the story lost some of its force when I learned the Zeitoun had been convicted of domestic violence against his wife, and it was reported that this abuse preceded the trauma of the hurricane. In such a book, where an author is writing in consultation with a living subject (as was the case with Eggers' "What is the What"), one has to allow for blind spots in the narrative that the subject would rather not bring to light.
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2012
In ZEITOUN, David Eggers has written a remarkable true story of one man's struggle to both survive and make a difference in an atmosphere of devastation and official incompetence. In reviewing this book, I'll be struggling against the use of superlatives and glowing adjectives, the bane of those who evaluate the worthiness of another person's writing.

Eggers has focused on many aspects of Hurricane Katrina. His probing examination reveals the overwhelming extent of the destruction, personal choices on how to cope with it, the ineptitude and cruelty displayed by officialdom, and individual stories of courage and compassion.

The author has obviously connected with the Zeitoun family. Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun, along with their children and many relatives scattered around the world, personify the closeness and love that every family strives for. It was the group effort that overcame an individual's hardship. Distance, cost, or time were not factors in their efforts that ultimately brought the ordeal to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion. Eggers portrays this intimate bond with obvious admiration.

Eggers is not so complimentary about the government's handling of its relief efforts. Officials responsible with maintaining order and providing assistance were caught up in the immensity of the disaster. Their confusion eventually gave way to abuse of power, indolence, and a herd mentality that resulted in the total breakdown of what should have been a humanitarian effort. I was outraged by the arrest of Zeitoun and his comrades in the first place and then totally devastated by their subsequent treatment by over officious law enforcement and military personnel.

The bullying attitude by law enforcement is a problem that still exists today. The sad part, as recounted in ZEITOUN, is that this idiotic attitude starts at the top and then permeates the entire organization. Who the hell was responsible for this debacle? Has anyone been called to account for it?

Abdulrahmin and Kathy's anxiety about keeping in touch with each other, although great during the actual storm, was exacerbated by Abdulrahmin's arrest. Panicky feelings of despair, and hopelessness became unbearable. The after effects of their ordeal seem more influenced by their encounters with law enforcement that by the storm itself. Their resilience is simply amazing, as is their ability to forgive. If this is a trait produced by their devout Muslim religion, then I'm impressed.

So I absolutely recommend this book. The writing is outstanding. The experience is mesmerizing. The lessons learned are eye-opening. The characters are unforgettable. Zeitoun (pronounced zay-toon) is a name for the ages.

Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
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on May 5, 2014
This man came from Syria, worked hard and made some money, established himself, had a family and the good life. When tragedy came to New Orleans, he sent his family away and stayed to watch his property. Because of circumstances and the men he was with, (one man had $10,000 in cash on his person) he was arrested for looting. His wife stayed with him and fought for his release which did come as a result of her working. The main reason I would complain about this book is the minute he was accused (falsely) he turned on and complained about this country which had given him more chances than an American Christian would have received in his native country. What treatment would an American receive in a Syrian jail?
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on March 24, 2013
Dave Eggers begins with the caveat that this story is the story of the protagonist ("Zeitoun," his family name) and his wife, Kathy. However, given the list of sources he consulted (listed at the end of the book), it seems he intended the book to be nonfiction, i.e., factual. Yet, Eggers's "fiction radar" never went off during the first section of the book, where Zeitoun and Kathy tell a story of their nearly perfect life: a father with a very strong work ethic; parents devoted to each other and their children; a family devoted to living their peaceful Muslim religious beliefs; an "American" wife committed to the religion to which she converted (before meeting her husband). Is any family that "perfect"? Eggers apparently did not question this. He should have, even if he just confirmed all that the couple had mentioned. While it's not "fair" to the author to expect that he would have uncovered the spousal abuse and anger that we now know was occurring during the time described in the first section of the book, it still seems fair to expect of the author a more serious commitment to his investigative journalism responsibilities than what he demonstrated. Even teasing out somewhat harmless flaws in the couple's personalities, behaviors or relationship would have made the story more *interesting* and *credible*. There is much more to say, about the value to the reader of completing the book (with a critical eye). What happened during and after Katrina was a travesty to all people living in that area and to our entire nature. However, one has to wonder why Zeitoun ignored the plight of his "friends," whom he left behind in their prisoner-contructed outdoor prison after he was released with the actions taken by his lawyer and his wife after a comparatively short internment.
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on December 26, 2012
By odd coincidence, I had read just up to Zeitoun's arrest when, surfing the internet to learn more about this story, I stumbled on the recent sordid history of Mr. Zeitoun and realized I'd been reading a work of fiction. I'm no longer interested in finishing this book. I realize there are many important and worthwhile issues here, but I can no longer trust Eggers to provide a reliable and honest viewpoint. Eggers was obviously enthralled by the Zeitouns - they come off as the perfect pair, the perfect family, and, as it turns out, much too good to be true. Is it possible to reconcile the Zeitoun who tenderly frees fish from an aquarium with the Zeitoun who beats his wife with a tire iron? An early warning sign that Eggers' glasses are rose colored is the passage in which Zeitoun debates the existence of God with a coworker. Eggers marvels at the persuasive beauty of Zeitoun's argument which in fact is anything but persuasive or beautiful or profound - his "who holds the stars up?" response is childish and about one knuckle deep. No thanks.
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on October 20, 2015
Well written and engaging. The book demonstrated the sense of honor/wonder and horror faced by people who remained behind in New Orleans after Katrina. I live in Louisiana and have interacted with many people who were touched by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The devastation, fear, helplessness, and actual experience of living without modern conveniences of clean water, plumbing, electricity, and a scarcity of food for extended periods of times is life changing and the book does a very good job of demonstrating these aspects of survival as well as the triumph of the human ability to adapt and overcome even if permanently changed. One criticism--the book tends to simplify the good guys vs. bad guys dynamic. The hero had flaws that were not explored and there was a good side to the characters painted as villains, again, not explored in this book.
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on May 29, 2016
I never imagined such devastation in New Orleans . The atrocious behaviors of various troops sent to restore law and order. The lack of preparedness of the powers that be to save the lives and take care of their citizens. Most appallingly the treatment of this sweet, hard working law abiding family.
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