Billy Sothern – Down in New Orleans

“Billy Sothern’s Down in New Orleans illustrates, in very human and heartbreaking ways, how the horrors that emerged during and following Hurricane Katrina existed long before the storm. These beautifully composed stories not only reveal the dignityand amazing grit and graceof the hurricane’s survivors; they also illuminate larger truths about the urgent issues of our day. Sothern magnifies the urgency of creating a government that really serves the common good – and a society that protects its poor and vulnerable.”

–Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation

Author: Billy Sothern
Narrator: David Henry
Duration: 7 hours 37 minutes
Released: 10 Apr 2003
Publisher: Caravan
Language: English

User Review:

banality baked

The narrator was obliviously not from New Orleans. It was criminal the way he mispronounced the street and neighborhood names as well as distracting.

The book is a veiled attempt to further his cause…racial equally. Alas New Orleans is a city that time forget. Heck we still honor the Napoleonic Code over all law. The civil rights movement has passed us by. There are places blacks are not allowed. I know several groceries, restaurants and apartments that won’t serve blacks.

He did lay out a good case for those changes. No one will argue with him that changes are needed but few hold out hope to see them. He thinks poverty and the oppression of the government are to blame. And to a degree they are.

I had lived in New Orleans 21 years prior to Katrina. I have an understanding of its unique political system. It is very flawed as the author knows. He is a lawyer who works to overturn death penalty cases.

He states he has lived in New Orleans for five years. And yet he does not understand what motives the people. The people need New Orleans as it part of their DNA. The rhythm of its life is ingrained in their daily struggle. The unique culture is our very breathe.

It should be noted we vote in the same oppressive people…the mayor, the sheriff, the DA. They are usually in until they retire. We feel comfortable with the familiar. With them we know the rules.

The author whitewashes the struggles in the Superdome to paint a prettier picture of the people who inhabited it. I was there. People can’t comprehend the devastation and the feeling of hopelessness we felt. To admit the lawlessness, would be to admit their government had failed.

I find it very interesting that the author blamed everyone but Nagin the mayor. He had the authority over the National Guard. It was he who told President Bush we had been evacuated when we had not. He closed the airport, train and bus stations prior to Katrina thus blocked any means of escape. And it was Nagin who pandered votes for reelection by promising us help. He abandoned the people who gave him their trust and votes.

I find it interesting that the author spends a great deal of time touting the idea that New Orleans should not be rebuilt. Rebuilding it would only be subjecting the citizens to the same extreme poverty and oppression as they had prior to Katrina. Plus they would live in fear of the next hurricane. And they should not be forced to keep bailing us out.

If you are looking for a book on the levees breaking and Katrina with individual stories, this is not the book for you. I doesn’t adequately answer the common questions most people ask. If you want to listen to the author on his soap box droning on and on about his honorable cause, buy the book.