Friday, February 26, 2016

Booknote: Drowned City

Don Brown, Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2015. ISBN:  9780544157774. 

Genre: Graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: nonfiction, American history
Format: Hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is a nonfiction graphic novel about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. I will say upfront that this book is a must-read to  understand what really happened. This is the story of how an American city was basically abandoned by the federal government and the basic incompetence at the federal, state, and local levels that botched the relief efforts. Yet it is also the story of how resilient people struggled to survive and of the rescue and relief workers who valiantly worked against great odds to save as many people as possible. Don Brown chronicles the events of Hurricane Katrina from August 26 (when it was announced the hurricane would hit New Orleans) to September 3 (when some of the last were evacuated from the convention center). The author covers the story day by day during that period presenting a blend of local stories with broader picture presentations of weather data, media coverage, and government officials.

Brown truly shows how the graphic novel format can be used to tell important stories. His story here is powerful and moving. His story here is powerful and moving. It is a story that, if you have any sense of human decency, should anger you against the criminally incompetent government officials that turned this terrible natural disaster into a massive, cataclysmic human catastrophe. His simple style art is strong and very evocative. Also, Brown's art is full of detail, some even a bit graphic; he does not hide the truth and tells it like it is.

In addition, the book is well documented with a set of source notes and a bibliography, which is also a good tool for those who wish to learn more. If your library has a graphic novels collection, this book is a necessary addition. Even if your library does not collect graphic novels, this is an important addition to your nonfiction shelves. This is one I am definitely ordering for my library. It is also a book I would gladly add to my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.

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This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

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