Angry. Frustrated. Ashamed. These are all emotions that historian Douglas Brinkley's bestseller caused in me when I read the history of one week, Aug.27-Sept. 3, 2005 and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There were heroes in the book - the Coast Guard, the Director of the Louisiana SPCA, numerous doctors and nurses, a large number of individual citizens. But, the bureaucracy failed. Brinkley's criticisms were aimed at President Bush, FEMA, Michael Chertoff, Michael Brown, Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco. Many of the police in the New Orleans Police Department did not come across as heroes, but some did. As Brinkley's story unfolds day after day, I was caught up in the stories and emotions.
I was angry at the federal government's lack of response. If reporters and truckers could get into New Orleans, why couldn't and wouldn't the government? Where was Bush's compassion for the people of the Gulf Coast? I was ashamed that the government failed to assist American people in the timely manner in which they assist other countries in times of disaster.
Brinkley has written a moving, powerful book.