Cover: Katrina: A History, 1915–2015, from Harvard University PressCover: Katrina in HARDCOVER

Katrina

A History, 1915–2015

On WBUR (Boston, MA)’s On Point, listen to Andy Horowitz analyze the structural issues that affected recovery from the legendary disaster—and what more still needs to be done:

Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

“The main thrust of Horowitz’s account is to make us understand Katrina—the civic calamity, not the storm itself—as a consequence of decades of bad decisions by humans, not an unanticipated caprice of nature.”—Nicholas Lemann, New Yorker

“Masterful…Disasters have the power to reveal who we are, what we value, what we’re willing—and unwilling—to protect.”—Eric Klinenberg, New York Review of Books

“If you want to read only one book to better understand why people in positions of power in government and industry do so little to address climate change, even with wildfires burning and ice caps melting and extinctions becoming a daily occurrence, this is the one.”—Scott W. Stern, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Horowitz rightly and trenchantly offers Katrina as an encapsulation of the big global challenges with which capitalism, racism, socio-economic inequality and global warming confront us all.”—Peter Coates, Times Literary Supplement

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.

The flood line tells one important story about Katrina, but it is not the only story that matters. Andy Horowitz investigates the response to the flood, when policymakers reapportioned the challenges the water posed, making it easier for white New Orleanians to return home than it was for African Americans. And he explores how the profits and liabilities created by Louisiana’s oil industry have been distributed unevenly among the state’s citizens for a century, prompting both dreams of abundance—and a catastrophic land loss crisis that continues today.

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.

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Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene