Author put his eye on the hurricane
During a local talk, he will focus on the people's stories, not on the statistics, of Katrina.
By DEMORRIS A. LEE
Published August 15, 2006
CLEARWATER - Douglas Brinkley was visiting the Gulf Coast town of Bay St. Louis, Miss., last year when Hurricane Katrina breached the shoreline and washed the city away.
The Tulane University history professor and New Orleans resident evacuated his family to Houston but returned to the Gulf Coast two days later with a tape recorder, wanting to capture the disaster for its historical value.
Brinkley's experiences over one week are the basis of a book of more than 600 pages, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Brinkley, author of four New York Times best-sellers, begins his accounts Aug. 27, just before the storm hit, and ends them Sept. 3.
Brinkley, 45, will share those experiences at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 N Osceola Ave.
"It's written in the past tense, and I used oral history techniques, became an investigative journalist, and there's an emotive quality," Brinkley said Monday in a telephone interview. "I was purposely emotional. I don't want people 500 years from now to look back on Hurricane Katrina as numbers. I want them to feel the human stories."
Thursday's discussion, to be held in the library's first-floor meeting room, is sponsored by the Friends of the Clearwater Library. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
Jan Nickols, community services manager for the Clearwater Public Library System, said the event is an opportunity for Brinkley to talk about the book but also a chance for residents to focus on storm preparedness.
Brinkley is a noted historian, with his last three narratives - Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, and Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism - becoming New York Times best-sellers.
In his new book, Brinkley said, he touches on experiences that include "seeing dead corpses floating in the toxic water" and the ineptness of all forms of government, including the local police and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"I want readers to remember there was a human cost to the political cronyism, shoddy engineering and bogus public policy in New Orleans," Brinkley said. "Everybody in America, when it comes to disasters, we are only as good as our local emergency operations centers, and it's all about preparedness."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 445-4174.
[Last modified August 14, 2006, 23:02:29]
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