Awards: Robert F. Kennedy Humanitarian prize

In the span of five violent hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed major Gulf Coast cities and flattened 150 miles of coastline. But it was only the first stage of a shocking triple tragedy. On the heels of one of the three strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States came the storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half-million homes —followed by the human tragedy of government mismanagement, which proved as cruel as the natural disaster itself.

In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley finds the true heroes of this unparalleled catastrophe, and lets the survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina.

“…Douglas Brinkley has made sure that anyone who reads this fine book will not be able to forget what happened here in the space of one terrible week in 2005. Alongside the infuriating lists of bureaucratic failures in the face of an immense human tragedy, he gives us inspiring tales of courage borne of desperation, stories to make us proud of who we are and where we live.” — Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune


“This is history with sharp edges and barely repressed indignation. Brinkley writes like a homegrown Emile Zola, flinging his angry ‘J’accuse’ at those who he argues betrayed the Gulf Coast through incompetence, indifference, or cowardice … Brinkley’s approach to the monstrous catastrophe is anecdotal, but as the individual stories mount, they reveal a picture of utter devastation, official bungling, and overwhelming human frailty. Much of what he relates is truly revolting – mass looting, rampant crime, sickening odors, the trashing of hospitals, inhuman conditions at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center, [and] official lying.” — Robert Fin, Cleveland Plain Dealer


“Brinkley weaves together dozens of stories interspersed with vivid personality profiles and recollections from those who survived the storm and others who were responsible for mobilizing rescue operations. There are gripping vignettes of heroic rescues, of death, and of the violence and looting that followed the storm, exposing the raw nature of the racial and economic divide that has long marked New Orleans. Brinkley’s descriptions of the nightmarish conditions at the poorly prepared ‘shelter of last resort,’ the Superdome and the City Convention Center, are particularly memorable.” — Dan Carter, Boston Globe


“Douglas Brinkley’s Great Deluge [is] a prodigious work of industry written on the fly while the storm-displaced Tulane history professor flitted from one refuge to another for six months.” — Ken Ringle, Chicago Sun-Times


“Brinkley presents a story worthy of Job or John Steinbeck.” — Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“Gripping reading. … Douglas Brinkley tells about the exertions of average folks who kept thousands more people alive.” — Dante Ramos, Los Angeles Times Book Review



Harper Collins


July 17th, 2006

Formats and Editions


Purchase book at these available locations:

Praise for The Great Deluge:

“‘The Great Deluge,’ captures the human toll of Katrina as graphically as the most vivid newspaper and television accounts.” — New York Times Book Review

“Doug Brinkley’s chronicle of Hurricane Katrina has a keen sense of history and context.” — Graydon Carter

“[A] riveting story” — Cokie Roberts

“The first historical book that has researched the available record on Katrina and is the closest to actual fact.” — Gov. Kathleen Blanco

“More dispassionate and analytical books will be written about Katrina, few will capture the human drama as well as Brinkley’s.” — Financial Times

“An important, poignant and often-infuriating look at the tragedy.” — Denver Post

“Written with verve and energy, this is Brinkley’s best book to date.” — Times Picayune

“…likely to be the [account] against which other treatments of the subject will be judged.” — Daily Advertiser

“An impassioned argument for sustained national interest in the aftermath of a catastrophe.” — The Advocate

“You can call “The Great Deluge” history, or you can call it journalism. But it’s good stuff.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“If you’ve grown numb to the horror of Katrina, this will wake you up. It’s a stirring and important book.” — The Arizona Republic