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107 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeitoun - Dave Eggers staggering work on a city in ruins
After watching Newsnight review the other evening where the irritatingly self satisfied and smug reviewer panned this book I felt compelled to write a review. In total ignorance of the author Dave Eggers I bought this book in New York at Christmas where it had generated real controversy. The impact of the New Orleans floods has a strange and compelling fascination not...
Published on 13 Mar. 2010 by Red on Black

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3.0 out of 5 stars The last time I will read an Eggers book
This may possibly be the last time I read a Dave Eggers book, for while the story he tells is an interesting one that needs to be told, the way he tells it is patronising, simplistic and exhibits a world view where blacks are very black and whites and bright white. While his charity and community work away from his writing is all very commendable, I read books because I...
Published 10 months ago by Ian Shine


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4.0 out of 5 stars Both sides of the American dream, 4 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Zeitoun (Hardcover)
Hurrican Katrina ranks as the most destructive natural diaster is US history. As is often the case the most effective way to capture this is through the eyes of an individual.

In this instance Dave Eggers picks Muslim American Zeitoun. Zeitoun represents so much that is great about America. He is Syrian by birth and fiercly proud of the fact. It is in his adopted home he has built the American dream. A self made man, owner of a successful business, family man, with an American wife and loving daughters and community man, well known for his excellent work and good deeds in his area of New Orleans.

When the hurricane strikes and his family leaves, he opts to stay put to keep an eye on his properties and help who he can. When the floods strike he travels the flooded streets in a canoe helping the stricken and feeding stray dogs. At this point this is an adventure story of sorts, one man against the odds trying to make a difference.

The second part of the book represents all that is dark about the US. The horrific lack of response from the Bush administration leads to disaster building on disaster. Security is more important that saving people. Zeitoun is picked up because of his Arab appearance and enters a Kafka like series of events that I found difficult to believe could happen in any nation let alone the one that holds itself up as beacon of freedom.

In the end its a book about overcoming and striving for personal freedom and success. But Eggers frames it against a national sense of a country losing its way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Innocent man in a flooded city, 28 Aug. 2010
By 
CJM (Lanarkshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zeitoun (Hardcover)
This is the compelling true story of a New Orleans Muslim man at the time of Hurricane Katrina. Abdulrahman Zeitoun is in the property renovation and decoration business. Hard-working and conscientious, he decides to ignore the mayor's evacuation advice and remain in New Orleans during the storm to keep an eye on his own and other people's homes. Recognising his stubborn determination, his wife and children reluctantly leave the city without him. The book provides absorbing background detail about Zeitoun and his wife Kathy, before decribing his experiences as the storm hits, breaching the levees and flooding much of the city. Zeitoun navigates New Orleans by canoe, helping others (e.g. rescuing some; feeding dogs abandoned by their owners). After several days spent tirelessly and selflessly providing assistance where he can, he inadvertently comes to the attention of emergency agencies, which are militaristic and lacking in compassion. Zeitoun soon discovers that they show scant respect for the human and legal rights of those they intercept and detain. These horrific events and Zeitoun's reactions to them form the third part of this engaging narrative. This is an immensely readable account of an extraordinary true tale - ultimately optimistic, but showing that in extreme circumstances civilisation is only skin deep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perturbing, 20 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Zeitoun (Kindle Edition)
This is a very captivating, yet perturbing account of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I found the account of the hurricane and the fears surrounding it captivating, but the way the authorities dealt with the aftermath and those still in the city is SO perturbing! Can that really happen in this day and age?
I liked the way Eggers also weaved the storty of the Zeitoun's life through memories etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 16 May 2011
By 
Ms. C. S. R. Murrell "Chants" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zeitoun (Paperback)
I absolutely LOVED this book, the prose was so good I devoured it in three days. Due to the true nature of Zeitoun's account of his and his families experiences during the disaster that was hurricane Katrina, Dave Eggers' retelling of this narrative is a wonderful, emotional, heart breaking, enlightening, saddening and mostly synaesthetic book that will make you feel for Zeitoun and his family, the human race, and yourself all in one go. I defy you not to feel like you know Zeitoun and his wife and children by the end of the book, and wish that you could call him up to ask how he is today. You learn about both his and his wife's families, how they came to be together, what he was like as a boy which made him the man he is today. I found his story remarkable; Zeitoun has morals, a strong work ethic and a definitive view of what his life should be like, and how he must function in the world, not only for himself but for others. This bears out on how he conducts himself during one of the most major natural disasters; it is beyond amazing. People like him are truly gold dust!! A definite must read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome tale of the altruistic nature of special individuals such as Mr Zeitoun., 14 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Zeitoun (Hardcover)
Heart warming and sad, incredible that something like this could happen in the richest country in the world. Politicians should hang their heads in shame as the capitalist world does not work. Mr Zeitoun is a remarkable man and this is his story. Well done again Dave Eggers!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Narrative, 30 May 2011
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This review is from: Zeitoun (Paperback)
What happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina undoubtedly left a scar on the American psyche. To understand why, you could start by reading this excellent book. It is the story of a man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who chose to stay in the city as the storm hit, feeling that he owed it to his city, his God and his people to do what he could through the crisis. He sends his family to safety, digs an old canoe out his garage and sets out to see what he can do to help.
Zeitoun is an immigrant from Syria, and one of the strengths of this book is how it threads his biography through the tale, meaning that you form a full picture of the man, his motivations and his heart that set him on his course in New Orleans. Where that course leads is a shocker, and I won't spoil it by recounting what happens, recommending that you read it yourself to find out. Suffice to say that it's a sobering story about injustice, the power of the state and the thin lines that separate democracy from anarchy and fascism.
More than that, however, this book brings home the tragedy of New Orleans during the flood. The sense of eerie desolation, the foreboding threat of looters, armed gangs and other dangers mean the book sometimes reads more like a thriller than anything else. As the city descends into utter chaos, you feel yourself being pulled into the drama as the author winds up the tension and you become gripped by the narrative.
I'd thoroughly recommend this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The last time I will read an Eggers book, 7 Sept. 2014
By 
Ian Shine (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Zeitoun (Paperback)
This may possibly be the last time I read a Dave Eggers book, for while the story he tells is an interesting one that needs to be told, the way he tells it is patronising, simplistic and exhibits a world view where blacks are very black and whites and bright white. While his charity and community work away from his writing is all very commendable, I read books because I want to be presented with a nuanced with of the world. There are a few challenging issues in Zeitoun, but they could be spelled out over the course of a feature story in a newspaper, not over 350 pages. The book drags, because of the simple narration and dichotomous world view - a charge also levelled at Eggers' latest book, "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?"
There are so many books in the world, and so many that uncover injustices in a more involved and investigative way than this, that I can't see myself ever going back to Eggers, despite enjoying his first two books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Key artefact of the Bush era, 4 May 2010
By 
Mooch (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zeitoun (Hardcover)
This affectingly-told story is an essential read and in years to come will be seen as one of the absolutely key cultural artefacts for understanding the dark Bush years. It's one to read without learning too much about, just trust all these rave reviews and give it a chance, you won't regret it. It is narrative non-fiction, written very clearly and simply in an almost matter-of-fact style, forming the testimony of a Syrian-American in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. It includes several beautiful flashbacks to Zeitoun's life in Syria, but still manages to rattle along at quite a clip - you will probably get through it in one amazing, gut-wrenching, rage-inducing, admiration-spilling, soul-inspiring session.

I hear plans are afoot to turn it into an animated film - probably the only affordable way of making it, but I can't help feeling that's a pity as it deserves the full major live-action treatment. Everyone must hear this story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars After the hurricane... the real hell, 23 Mar. 2011
By 
WordWoman (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zeitoun (Paperback)
This book is the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a hard-working and popular Syrian-American businessman based in New Orleans, who survives Hurricane Katrina only to find himself living a Kafka-esque nightmare as the justice system unravels around him.

As the hurricane approaches and the severity of the situation becomes clear, Zeitoun's wife and children flee the city - but he insists on staying behind to keep an eye on their business and various tenanted properties. The descriptions of post-Katrina New Orleans bring home the full extent of the devastation, but the big-hearted Zeitoun is undaunted, paddling around the flooded streets in his canoe rescuing trapped neighbours, friends and pets.

Until, that is, he comes to the attention of the military drafted in to restore order and his descent into hell begins.

A gripping read and a searing indictment of the Bush administration - read it and rage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Documentary, 14 Mar. 2011
By 
AGP (Chesterfield) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zeitoun (Paperback)
'Zeitoun' is a fearless and gripping account of a man's heroism and consequent mistreatment by his country, and in particular, F.E.M.A. in the immediate aftermath of the devastating hurricane Katrina.
The story is recounted by the superb writer Dave Eggers in simple prose and is all the better for it; the story is powerful enough without any need for indulgent literary garnish.
The narrative is fast moving, I flew through it in a couple of days, gripped and propelled by growing anger at how a supposedly civilized country could treat it's citizens in such a disgraceful way.
This is an important and damaging document on how America and the Bush 'regime' failed spectacularly to deal with a monumental humanitarian disaster on their own shores and belongs on the same shelf as masterpieces such as David Simon and Ed Burns' 'The Corner'
If America is the land of the free, we're all in deep trouble.
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Zeitoun
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (Paperback - 24 Feb. 2011)
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