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Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow

By: William R Freudenburg, Shirley Laska, Robert Gramling and Kai Erikson

Island Press

Hardback | Dec 2009 | #183105 | ISBN-13: 9781597266826
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $25/€22 approx

About this book

When houses are flattened, towns submerged, and people stranded without electricity or even food, it is usually attributed to natural disasters or acts of God. But what if they are neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing these catastrophes on ourselves? That's the provocative theory contained inside this, the first book to recognize Hurricane Katrina not as a perfect storm, but a tragedy of our own making - and one that could become commonplace.

The authors, one a longtime New Orleans resident, argue that breached levees and sloppy emergency response are just the most obvious examples of government failure. The true problem is more deeply rooted and insidious, and stretches far beyond the Gulf Coast. Based on the false promise of widespread prosperity, communities across the U.S. have embraced many brands of economic development at all costs. In Louisiana, that meant development interests turning wetlands into shipping lanes. By replacing a natural buffer against storm surges with a 75-mile long, obsolete canal that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, they guided the hurricane into the heart of New Orleans and adjacent communities. The authors reveal why, despite their geographic differences, California and Missouri are building toward similar destruction.

Fabulous. I am amazed at the quality of writing-it often left me breathless-and the depth of analysis. This penetrating and engaging book is essential for understanding the many catastrophes that stem from ignoring nature in our quest for economic growth. -- Charles Perrow "professor emeritus, Yale and author of Normal Accidents"

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William R. Freudenburg is professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Robert Gramling is professor of Sociology and director of the Center for Socioeconomic Research at the University of Louisiana at Layayette. Shirley Laska is a professor of Sociology at the University of New Orleans and director of the Center for Hazards, Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART). Kai Erikson is professor emeritus of Sociology and American Studies at Yale University.

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