Join our host David Hartmann and fellow Columbia alumni as the book club discusses Katrina: A History, 1915-2015 by Andy Horowitz and selected by club member Chris Stacey.
Katrina: A History was the winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize and was a Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of the Year. Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, but the decisions that caused the disaster extend across the twentieth century. After the city weathered a major hurricane in 1915, its Sewerage and Water Board believed that developers could safely build housing away from the high ground near the Mississippi. And so New Orleans grew in lowlands that relied on significant government subsidies to stay dry. When the flawed levee system surrounding the city and its suburbs failed, these were the neighborhoods that were devastated. The homes that flooded belonged to Louisianans black and white, rich and poor. Katrina’s flood washed over the twentieth-century city. Laying bare the relationship between structural inequality and physical infrastructure―a relationship that has shaped all American cities―Katrina offers a chilling glimpse of the future disasters we are already creating.