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Zeitoun
Zeitoun
Author: Dave Eggers
The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina. — Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to wat...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780307387943
ISBN-10: 0307387941
Publication Date: 6/8/2010
Pages: 337
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 106

4.1 stars, based on 106 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Zeitoun on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I had to read this for book club and to be honest I put it off for quite a while. I am not usually a reader of the 'true story/memoir' genre. But I have to say that from the moment I finally started this book, I was pulled in and couldn't hardly put it down. Great story, well written in a style to keep me engaged. Definitely a story that "makes you think". I agree to some degree with some of the folks in my book group who said that you only saw one side - the good side - of the key characters, but I think that is minor when compared to the story as a whole.
reviewed Zeitoun on + 91 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
* * *. Biography. A contractor/property owner living in New Orleans underestimates the forecast predictions regarding Hurricane Katrina and decides to stay behind and weather the storm. His decision has good and bad results as he becomes an important player in other people's lives, but is unable to protect himself from the ensuing chaos and confusion.

A definite page-turner. Eggers vividly describes the haunting silence that followed the storm and is also able to relay the man's disbeliefs, struggles and experiences trying to overcome unfortunate mislabelings.
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reviewed Zeitoun on + 13 more book reviews
Before I read this book I heard some things about it, was advised to read it critically, not believe everything. Even so, as I read it I became completely absorbed by the story and had difficulty figuring out what I shouldn't believe. The story is about a man who goes by his last name, Zeitoun, who stayed in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina, helping others, and who was detained in temporary cells for reasons that were unclear. The story emphasizes the problems with the post-9/11 security system that was in place at that time. According to Eggers, the incidents that could be cross-checked were; he made a great effort to verify what he could. He also, I learned later, sent copies of the text to the Zeitouns for comment and corrections. Here is where the story may have been edited to portray Zeitoun as a simple, caring, dedicated family man.

But let's start with the story. When Katrina was off-shore and appeared to be threatening New Orleans, Zeitoun encouraged his wife to take their children up north to stay with relatives, while he stayed in New Orleans, helping his customers (he is a painting contractor who also does repair and remodeling work) fortify their homes. Like many in the city, he didn't think Katrina would do any more damage than any other storm he had weathered. When his neighborhood started to flood, however, he found a rowboat and set out, initially to check on his properties. It was during these forays that he came across various persons stranded, as well as some dogs. He helped those that he could, discovering in the process that many of those who were brought into the city to deal with the disaster were security forces, not actually rescuers.

The story of Zeitoun's experiences are alternated with the story of his wife's. It reads like a tale of a loving couple, for the most part. However, the fact that Zeitoun continually found reason to stay in NO while his wife was coping with difficulties in another city suggests that their relationship may not have been all that loving.

The story brought back to me memories of that hurricane and its aftermath. The whole of this country seemed to be glued to television as report after report showed how badly the disaster was handled at a federal level, including the use of the military to "keep peace". Zeitoun's story jibes well with what I know of that time. How he actually behaved during this time is, of course, not fully known.

What has come out since the publication of this book is that Zeitoun has been charged with attempting to murder his wife, and his wife has admitted that their troubles started long before Katrina. None of this invalidates the story here, except for what Zeitoun and his wife may have thought or said. And, of course, the impression that he is a good man might be questionable.

Worth reading anyway, I think. It's quick and easy to read, written in a simple, unadorned reportorial style. A library of Katrina books is developing, and this one certainly belongs there.
reviewed Zeitoun on
Great book. Gives you a different perspective as to what really happened after Katrina. Everyone should read this.
reviewed Zeitoun on + 10 more book reviews
The story amazed me, feel like I slept thru that part of Katrina when it happened. Dave Eggers writing is superb for this type of genre.

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