Rivlin has spent the past decade in and out of New Orleans researching the city's recovery. Katrina: After the Flood was recently reviewed by Gambit.
Katrina: After the FloodIn Rolling Stone this week, Rivlin reports on a generation of young New Orleanians whose lives were affected by the disaster.
By Gary Rivlin (Simon & Schuster, $27)
Rivlin covered the aftermath of Katrina for The New York Times and pieces together a tapestry of portraits and tales that should place this as one of the definitive books on the subject. He was a fly on the wall at meetings of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission (which was, of course, about bringing back some neighborhoods and not others), and examines the 2006 mayoral race, which brought 21 challengers against Mayor Ray Nagin, who had made headlines with his "chocolate city" comment. Along the way, Rivlin tells personal stories of New Orleanians just trying to get by, like that of Cassandra Wall, who believes the stress of the storm contributed to her mother's death from cancer, and the late Mack McClendon, who worked on his destroyed house all day and slept in a formaldehyde-poisoned FEMA trailer at night.
There are fascinating quotes on nearly every page, from real estate developer Pres Kabacoff ("It took a Katrina to finally turn things around") to Nagin, who allowed talk show host Oprah Winfrey to enter the Superdome only after swearing aloud, "I, Oprah Winfrey, promise not to hold the city liable financially or otherwise as a result of me going into this doggone stinky-ass Superdome."
Rivlin also resurrects a 2006 story by The New York Times' Adam Nossiter, who described boosters imagining a New Orleans that has become "an arts-infused mecca for youthful risk-takers, a boomtown where entrepreneurs can repair to cool French Quarter bars in ancient buildings after a hard day of deal making." You be the judge.
Gary Rivilin's talk will begin the day at Rising Tide X in the Ballroom at 10:00 am.
Rising Tide X is August 29 at Xavier University. Check out the rest of the website for details about the extensive program. You can go for free this year but please register here. If you'd like to help defray the cost of production, there's a separate GoFundMe page here.