Douglas Brinkley: Donating Katrina Book Proceeds

Historians in the News

When Hurricane Katrina hit, Tulane University historian Douglas Brinkley reacted like a family man, getting himself, his wife and two young children out of their apartment overlooking the Mississippi River and safely on to Houston.

When he returned later to New Orleans to help with the rescue effort, Brinkley began thinking again like a historian.

"I was in downtown New Orleans, in a boat with a minister and a couple of friends, and when I saw the shameful inactivity of so many government agencies, I realized there was going to be a lot of spin about all this, that time will heal and that it wasn't so bad," he said Tuesday in an interview from Houston, where Tulane has temporarily relocated.

"In another two to three weeks, the media trucks will have pulled out, but the people here will still have a lot to do. The architects will start working on blueprints for the new buildings and as a historian I am thinking about how one documents a deluge of this magnitude."

In the first major book deal related to Katrina, Brinkley is planning "an analysis and narrative of the ongoing crisis in New Orleans in historical context," according to his publisher, William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.

The book, tentatively titled "The Great Deluge," is scheduled to be published by Morrow early next year. Brinkley says he will donate all proceeds to the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center based in the city's French Quarter, where relatively little damage occurred.

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