Americans at first seemed united in what Herbert Hoover called a "great relief machine," but deep rifts soon arose. Southerners, pointing to faulty federal levee design, decried the attack of Yankee water. The condition of African American evacuees in “concentration camps” prompted pundits like W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells to warn of the return of slavery to Dixie. And environmentalists like Gifford Pinchot called the flood “the most colossal blunder in civilized history.” Susan Scott Parrish examines how these and other key figures—from entertainers Will Rogers, Miller & Lyles, and Bessie Smith to authors Sterling Brown, William Faulkner, and Richard Wright—shaped public awareness and collective memory of the event.
The crises of this period that usually dominate historical accounts are war and financial collapse, but The Flood Year 1927 enables us to assess how mediated environmental disasters became central to modern consciousness.
Richard Campanella and Romain Huret examine the particular geographical and political mix that set the stage for Katrina's devastation, especially among the poorest populations of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Jean Kempf, James Boyden, Andrew Diamond, and Thomas Jessen Adams address the ideological biases and racial stereotypes that infused local and national commentary in the days and weeks after the storm. Finally, Bruce Raeburn, Sara Le Menestrel, Anne M. Lovell, and Randy J. Sparks explore the impact of this powerful tropical event on the city's institutions and cultural organizations.
Hurricane Katrina in Transatlantic Perspective offers a profound and innovative collection of insights on one of the most significant environmental catastrophes in U.S. history, forcing us to examine the cultural actors that transformed a natural disaster into a humanitarian crisis.
Over fifty years ago, Gerda Weissmann was barely alive at the end of a 350-mile death march that took her from a slave labor camp in Germany to the Czech border. On May 7, 1945, the American military stormed the area, and the first soldier to approach Gerda was Kurt Klein. She guided him to her fellow prisoners who lay sick and dying on the ground, and quoted Goethe: "Noble be man, merciful and good." Perhaps it was her irony, her composure, her evident compassion in the face of tragedy, that struck Kurt Klein. A great love had begun. Forced to separate just weeks after liberation and hours after their engagement, Gerda and Kurt began a correspondence that lasted until their reunion and wedding in Paris a year later. Their poignant letters reflect upon the horrors of war and genocide, but above all, upon the rapture and salvation of true love.