Synopses & Reviews
When houses are flattened, towns submerged, and people stranded without electricity or even food, we attribute the suffering to andldquo;natural disastersandrdquo; or andldquo;acts of God.andrdquo; But what if theyandrsquo;re neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing these catastrophes on ourselves?
Thatandrsquo;s the provocative theory of Catastrophe in the Making, the first book to recognize Hurricane Katrina not as a andldquo;perfect storm,andrdquo; but a tragedy of our own makingandmdash;and one that could become commonplace. and#160;
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 all brands of andldquo;economic developmentandrdquo; 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 buildingandmdash;quite literallyandmdash;toward similar destruction.
Too often, the U.S. andldquo;growth machineandrdquo; generates wealth for a few and misery for many. Drawing lessons from the most expensive andldquo;naturalandrdquo; disaster in American history, Catastrophe in the Making shows why thoughtless development comes at a price we can ill afford.
andquot;Fabulous. I am amazed at the quality of writingandmdash;it often left me breathlessandmdash;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.andquot;
andquot;This brilliant work demonstrates once again that most and#39;naturaland#39; disasters are in fact man-made, and therefore preventable and correctable. Bravo!andquot;
andquot;The best account yet of why the levees failed. The authors also warn of more disasters to come if politicians and government agencies continue to promote huge engineering projects along unstable coastlines.andquot;
andquot;This masterpiece of scholarship breaks through a clutter of explanations of Hurricane Katrina...Freudenburg and his colleagues ground their analysis in an enduring sociological concept of the and#39;growth machineand#39;... to advance their argument of humansand#39; biting nature...Essential...Highly recommended.andquot;
andquot;From backgrounds primarily in sociology or environmental studies, the authors do an excellent job explaining their treatise, providing a comprehensive background on the hurricane itselfandmdash;how and why it formed, the physical processes at work, and how once the storm passed the disaster started. Discussing deeper stories not widely reported in the media, they highlight the heroics of the and#39;Cajun Flotillaand#39; and other inventive survivors, and create a backdrop for a better understanding of the human cost associated with the storm and subsequent tragedy.andquot;
"Fatal Isolation is a riveting account of the social, cultural, and political forces that made France so vulnerable during the historic 2003 heat wave, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of urban life on an overheated planet. Along the way, Richard Keller takes up deep and unsettling questions about what we can and cannot know about the recent past. It's a memorable, haunting book."
andquot;When does urban social policy become thanatopolitics? In Fatal Isolation the 2003 Paris heat wave becomes a site for thinking about excessive, anonymous, forgotten death. Keller goes in search of corpses in a space without narrative, and brings back valuable fragments of anecdotal lives. This is a dense and compelling history with implications for France and beyond.andquot;
andquot;Masterful. Keller synthesizes disparate sources of information into an impressive new explanation of the heat-wave deaths. More broadly, he demonstrates how social status, not only geographical location, predicts survival during natural disasters.andquot;
Based on the false promise of widespread prosperity, communities across the U.S. have embraced all brands of and#8220;economic developmentand#8221; 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 buildingand#8212;quite literallyand#8212;toward similar destruction. and#160; Too often, the U.S. and#8220;growth machineand#8221; generates wealth for a few and misery for many. Drawing lessons from the most expensive and#8220;naturaland#8221; disaster in American history, Catastrophe in the Making
shows why thoughtless development comes at a price we can ill afford.
Based on the false promise of widespread prosperity, communities acr
In a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Paris lie the bodies of nearly a hundred of what some have called the first casualties of global climate change. They were the so-called abandoned victims of the worst natural disaster in French history, the devastating heat wave that struck in August 2003, leaving 15,000 dead. They died alone in Paris and its suburbs, and were then buried at public expense, their bodies unclaimed. They died, and to a great extent lived, unnoticed by their neighbors--their bodies undiscovered in some cases until weeks after their deaths.
Fatal Isolation tells the stories of these victims and the catastrophe that took their lives. It explores the multiple narratives of disaster--the official story of the crisis and its aftermath, as presented by the media and the state; the life stories of the individual victims, which both illuminate and challenge the ways we typically perceive natural disasters; and the scientific understandings of disaster and its management. Fatal Isolation is both a social history of risk and vulnerability in the urban landscape and a story of how a city copes with emerging threats and sudden, dramatic change.
About the Author
William R. Freudenburgand#160;was 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 Lafayette. 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.
Table of Contents
1 Stories, Suffering, and the State: The Heat Wave and Narratives of Disaster
2 Anecdotal Life: Isolation, Vulnerability, and Social Marginalization
3 Place Matters: Mortality, Space, and Urban Form
4 Vulnerability and the Political Imagination: Constructing Old Age in Postwar France
5 Counting the Dead: Risk and the Limits of Epidemiology