People all around the world were affected by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 as it unfolded in all its ugliness and ferocity on television, the Internet and radio. Dan Baum, columnist for The New Yorker wrote Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans after covering the hurricane for his magazine. He then decided that he would like to report on more personal stories of New Orleanians and their struggles and compile them into a book.
Baum does much more than point fingers and assign absolute responsibility in the blame game of this disaster. He meets and interviews nine New Orleans residents who are all quite different — what they have in common is their deep abiding love for their city and the devastating consequences that Hurricane Katrina had on their lives. He brings their voices, personalities and stories alive as they recount their personal histories, some as far back as 40 years. There is a jazz playing coroner, a transvestite, a retired streetcar-track repairman, a white cop, a black ex-con and a millionaire garden District attorney among others.
Each of their stories and points of view are unique — sometimes they intersect with each other, but more often they do not. Yet, they are all forever affected by the 10th character in the book, New Orleans herself. New Orleans has it all-beauty, ugliness, crime and compassion. There is, and always has been, much to love about this city and much to abhor.
You will feel it all — New Orleans jazz, Mardi Gras, voodoo, racial disparity, poverty, but most of all the resilience of the human spirit in this bewitching city that has withstood the test of time, often in spite of herself.