Critical Comparative

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Critical Comparative

Critical Comparative


In this paper we will analyze and compare the Douglas Brinkley book The Great Deluge and the movie Trouble the water. The film “Trouble the water” follows Kimberly Rivers, aka Black Kold Medina, a rap artist from the Ninth Ward too poor to leave New Orleans before the storm. While the book The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley is a no-holds-barred, stark look at the week of August 27 - September 3, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore devastating the upper Gulf Coast of the United States and causing massive flooding in the city of New Orleans.


Book Review

The Great Deluge, Douglas Brinkley's monumental history of the calamity, Nagin had the strange (and entirely unfounded) belief that ordering a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans would leave the city vulnerable to a lawsuit from tourist-dependent industries. On Saturday, 26 August, while Katrina gathered force over the unusually warm waters of the Gulf, the mayor worried over legal strategies; “Direct action was necessary on a dozen fronts and Nagin was hesitating like a schoolboy afraid to get his report card.” It's a clearly etched portrait of fecklessness, the spineless leader who looks down the barrel of the gun and blinks, and like much of this book, hard to read without wishing for the consoling filter of fiction (He'd be a great villain if this were made-up). Because that's what we truly want from this, or any, history of Katrina: clearly assigned blame. In that sense, at least, Brinkley's book truly does its job.

Calling Katrina and its aftermath, the Great Deluge, “a disaster that the country brought on itself,” Brinkley is clearly out to point fingers from the get-go. Which is as it should be, given how clearly foreseen nature's onslaught was. We've all heard the post-mortems listing the array of reports and news stories published just in the past few years which laid out, in some detail, just what would happen if a massive hurricane came tearing through New Orleans. It was sketched out like a filmmaker's storyboard. The systematic destruction of nearby wetlands left little barrier between the city and the sea, levees designed after 1965's Hurricane Betsy to withstand only a Category 3 hurricane would not stand, and the city would fill up like a bathtub—hopefully everybody would have gotten out beforehand.

Yet somehow, despite all the warnings and plans, a cascading torrent of incompetence stretching over all levels of government, from Nagin to Governor Blanco to FEMA head Michael Brown, conspired against the creation and implementation of a competent pre-emergency plan; what Brinkley refers to as “a chain of failures.” The failures included everything from FEMA's legendary ineptitude and outright lies about aid that never materialized to New Orleans police officers blithely ignoring citizens in distress to one particularly painful episode where Amtrak offered the city 700 free tickets to get people out of New Orleans—this is just before Katrina hit, when about a fifth of the city's 460,000 residents where still there—only ...
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