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4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  55,550 Ratings  ·  6,759 Reviews

In August, 2005, as Hurricane Katrina blew in, the city of New Orleans had been abandoned by most citizens. But resident Abdulrahman Zeitoun, though his wife and family had gone, refused to leave. For days he traversed an apocalyptic landscape of flooded streets by canoe. He protected neighbours' properties, fed trapped dogs and rescued survivors. But eventually he came to

Kindle Edition, 370 pages
Published (first published July 15th 2008)
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Teri Pre I don't know that I'd want even a 12 year old to know about strip searches and rectal checks. Maybe 16 or above?
Debbie Hardy I think the book was written from the perspective of a writer and storyteller who immersed himself in these lives,and his exploration of the…moreI think the book was written from the perspective of a writer and storyteller who immersed himself in these lives,and his exploration of the consequences of being "other" in a time of fear. Remember,all writers are in essence, liars. But all stories are true,to the people who live them. Also:
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Community Reviews

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Aug 15, 2009 Imogen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Will you remind me again why we all hate Dave Eggers so much? I remember reading What Is The What as an act of defiance against the culture at the Strand, where all the book snobs I was working with were way, far too cool to like him. I don't think I looked into the situation very critically though. I mean, at the time I was more interested in reading as confrontation than I was in understanding that confrontation.

But now I'm old! So let's talk about it. Is it because he's popular? He's not, ac
Richard Derus
Apr 08, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been revised and extended. It can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.
I am still trembling from rage, disbelief, and sadness -having closed the back cover of this book a few minutes ago. Aside from newspaper and magazine articles that I read in the weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina, this is the first long and complete account I have read of a family's experience in the disaster. It is a tremendous and devastating work, told with such forthrightness, simplicity and respect. I highly recommend it to all.

What strikes me as I read several of the Goodreads
Jennifer (aka EM)
Read between 11.30 pm and 4.45 a.m. last night. One big gulp of stinky, corrupt water and the lives that were washed away in it -- and continue to be devastated by injustices codified and rationalized by "The War On Terror" -- the U.S.'s own citizens murdered by ineptitude, bureacracy and a racist, elitist, fear-based world-view that prioritized building prisons over providing food, water and shelter.

Eggers at his very best. What he manages to do here (a lesson learned from the backlash against
May 17, 2011 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Definitely compelling -- once we get to the storm. The book starts off pretty slow and unsatisfying. Eggers needs to establish these characters, needs to make us care, but he does so with vast brushstrokes punctuated with only the occasional specific detail for balance. The problem is it's pure exposition and summary. In part I of the book there's virtually no scene. This made it extremely difficult to invest myself completely in the book. While I got an idea of who the Zeitouns were, I never re ...more
May 06, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“What is building, and rebuilding and rebuilding again, but an act of faith?”
― Dave Eggers, Zeitoun


There is something bold and yet quiet about 'Zeitoun' the book and Zeitoun the man. There is also something bold about Dave Eggers. I don't always like the flashier parts of Eggers. The sparkle and the shake of 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' or the fur-covered binding of 'The Wild Things' didn't really capture me like they did some. But after reading 'A Hologram for the King' I've sta
Feb 09, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: NY Times
Shelves: fiction
Rave review in the New York Times.

I'm on Amtrak today, on the first of a three-day trip to New Orleans. I checked five books out of the library just before leaving, then pondered and left two of them at home. This morning I started in on Zeitoun, and this evening I finished it. Maybe I should have brought more than three books? (I also listened to many hours of podcasts when I decided the scenery was nice enough that I didn't want to be reading — it turns out train trips are a great way of catch
File this under "The Best Book You've Never Heard Of," or at least it was one of the best books I'd never heard of until it was recommended as the next read for our book club.

This narrative non-fiction book chronicles the story of Abdul Zeitoun in the days before and weeks after Katrina. Zeitoun is a Syrian immigrant who ultimately settles in New Orleans, becomes an American citizen, and builds a successful painting/property ownership business.

As Katrina prepares to make landfall, Zeitoun's wif
Jun 20, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Moral Ravages of Hurricane Katrina
The Dangers of Hatred and Bigotry

Dave Eggers tells the astonishing and sad story of how the basest of evil in the human condition tends to rise in times of turmoil. It struck me though how this 2009 book is just as relevant today, probably even moreso given the hate-filled rhetoric of one candidate for U.S. President who would have proposed that we not only lock up Mr. Zeitoun,* a Syrian-born New Orleans small business operator since 1988, and a naturalized
David Quinn
Jan 02, 2016 David Quinn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Martin
so Zeitoun is a flagship work for Eggers' Voice of Witness, an organization that:
depicts human rights crises around the world through the stories of the men and women who experience them.

And in Zeitoun we get an intensely personal story cast as a morality play not only about Hurricane Katrina, but 9/11 to boot!

But what to make of a morality play where the protagonist attacks his wife with a tire iron and then gets arrested for three counts of attempted murder? Does oops cut it?

The world is a mes
I am currently at the back end of a monster diet: 500 calories a day, all protein, no carb. I am also now a Knut Hamsun character: no body come near me, or I will eat you. Literally. Things are baaad. And so, last night, I caved in, a bought a Penguin at the kiosk. Normally, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge poll. Haute cuisine it ain’t, and frankly, I’ve never seen anyone under 300 pounds eating one. But, this was no time for debating the finer points of degustation. Or any other points, for tha ...more
Apr 13, 2013 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
"The artist doesn't matter." So say I in my GoodReads profile. What about the inspiration for the story? Does he matter?

After finishing the book, I had to push my heart back down my throat. I had mini-nightmares about what I had read. I took a deep breath and made a note of buying a copy for a close friend's upcoming birthday. And, as with all books I love, I searched for online reviews and varying opinions, and stumbled upon the real-life murder charges brought against Zeitoun this past fall:

Kasa Cotugno
As a writer, Dave Eggers has the ability to find the small story within the larger one, as exemplified by his "Voice of Witness" series, out of which arose this book. But no one else could have written this book -- his extraordinary skill as a writer coupled with his deep seated humanity and puckish humor have woven a story of courage and loyalty and love far beyond any other I've read, save for his own "What is the What," my favorite book of 2006. His befriending of his subjects results in epic ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aaaaaaaarghhh!! I just can't take Dave Eggers. He has authorial ADD. Stay focused already, dude! Beats me why he's considered such a great writer. Oh well, no accounting for individual tastes, I guess.
Book Concierge
Book on CD performed by Firdous Bamji.

This is a true story of what happened to one family in Post-Katrina New Orleans.

Kathy and Abdulrahman Zeitoun own and operate a contracting firm specializing in remodeling and refurbishing homes. In August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina heads for New Orleans, Kathy flees the city with their four young children, eventually winding up with friends in Phoenix. Abdulrahman (commonly known by his last name, Zeitoun) remains behind to watch over their properties. Aft
Aug 07, 2009 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zeitoun is a moving and eye-opening journalistic account of a much-loved and respected Syrian-born small business owner and resident of New Orleans in the days before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Eggers worked closely with Abdulrahman Zeitoun (known simply as "Zeitoun") and his American wife Kathy to faithfully represent Zeitoun's experiences when he remained in New Orleans to supervise his residential properties and business sites following the hurricane.

Some of the most emotionally r
Sep 16, 2013 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimmy by: CS, SUR
A long time ago I had decided not to ever read anything by Dave Eggers. That was because he had written an atrocity of a book called 'A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'. It was self indulgent, self conscious posturing, using literary gimmicks in a way that I found wholly inauthentic. This was AGES ago, though, so don't ask me for specific complaints. I don't remember them.

Anyway, about a month ago, a friend was reading Zeitoun and finished it in about a day, then lent it to another friend
Gary  the Bookworm
I am not a fan of Dave Eggers. A Hologram for the King was the first novel I read by him and I found it dull and unconvincing. Then Zeitoun was chosen by my goodreads group, Read Between the Wines, as its nonfiction selection for November. I downed a bottle, or two, and staggered on board, thinking I'd give Eggers another chance with something that was based on truth. As my buzz diminished, I found myself swept back in time to that dreadful weekend in August, 2005 when the world watched in horr ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Character-driven narrative non-fiction. Once the storm hits, it's consistently top notch, un-put-down-ably compelling and important. Not really just a book about Hurricane Katrina. It's more about how essential human virtues -- courage, endurance, hard work, tolerance, love for and reliance on family -- outweigh superficial religious and regional differences. How character's revealed under pressure. Extreme Bush-Era breakdown of rights we take for granted in the U.S -- there was some disbelief r ...more
I am approximately 2/3 of the way through this book and am thus far underwhelmed. Not by the story - the characters, primarly the eponymous name character, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, are nuanced, courageous individuals who captura the at once deeply personal and universal nature of Katrina and its aftermath. But Eggers' writing is quite dry and the book much longer than it needs to be to tell this story. Eggers intersperses the main narrative with stories of Zeitoun's family and childhood in Syria, wh ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Half-way through reading this book, I decided to Google Abdulrahman Zeitoun. The book was getting stressful and I wanted to make sure he survived. I found out that yes, he did survive, but I also found out the horrifying truth. He's been arrested multiple times since the book's publication for choking his now ex-wife and beating her with a tire iron, for ordering a hit on her and his stepson, and for continuous violations of restraining orders that have lead to a felony stalking charge. He's a h ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is the third Eggers book I've read and they've all been really readable. I like reading them.

The others were Heartbreaking Work and What is the What, and all of them have been about things that are true.

Zeitoun is fuckin' horrifying. It's about a Syrian emigrant to the US who chooses to stay in New Orleans during Katrina due to reasons that make perfect sense. He's equipped to stay, he has properties to watch out for, he's resourceful: he's actually the right guy to stay. He's an asset to t
Oct 31, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am oddly pleased that the 3000th book that I have listed on goodreads should be this one, because it is one of the best books that I have read in the several years I've been visiting the site. Not everything that Dave Eggers has written is to my taste, but he deserves nothing but kudos for this book.

It will break your heart. it will make you mad as hell all over again with the slimy Bush administration and the excesses which they engaged in. But neither is a reason not to read it.

I cannot rec
Jeffrey Zeldman
This is a wonderful book, an important book, but I'm finding it impossible to finish because the injustice it chronicles enrages me. It tells the story of an amazing man who chose to stay behind during Hurricane Katrina, saved the lives of his neighbors, and then ended up in a cell because he is Muslim. Zeitoun was eventually freed—I know this. But it still kills me to read what happened to him, his wife, his kids, in our country. I also know, we all know, he is not the only man locked up for be ...more
I thought I was taking a break from my prison binge, reading this pick for my prison book group. An offender told me this was a book every American citizen should be required to read. I thought he might have been a bit hyperbolic. But he was absolutely right. Not only is this an important book, it is the most powerful of all my prison reading in establishing the huge dysfunction of the American penal system.
You may have an opinion about Dave Eggers, or his publishing company, McSweeney's. You m
Jun 20, 2016 LeAnne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Y'all. This book is VERY LIKELY PURE FICTION and poor Eggers got conned. The Zeitouns/Zetons painted my uptown house in the late 90s, and after their arrests, I paid attention whenever their names showed up in the Times-Picayune. Anybody who lives in the Garden District or really anywhere Uptown in New Orleans knows about these guys.

Fred (Fuad) was the smooth talking cousin and business partners of the hero of this (supposedly nonfiction) story. Fred has more convictions for fraud and identity
Mar 01, 2010 Oriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, harrowing, horrifying, devastating, maybe a little bit redemptive? But mostly just appalling. There was one scene which is etched crushingly into my brain, and if I allow myself to dwell on it for more than a few seconds, even now, many many months after I read this book, I will burst anew into tears.
Mar 01, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Matthew
I found this ebook at a very reasonable price so I thought I'd give it a shot, having been convinced to give Dave Eggers a try by a reliable source (hello, Matthew!). The subject matter sounded really interesting.

And it WAS interesting - interesting, intriguing, shocking and horrifying, by the end. The first half made me rather annoyed with Zeitoun. He seemed to embody my mental image of someone who would stay in a city in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane: arrogant, convinced that the danger
I am not predisposed to care for Dave Eggers. Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with my just pure visceral repulsion to his youthful memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, that phenomenally shallow and exploitative exercise in hubris. I've invested a lot of time and effort in a lot of book clubs explaining just why I loathe that book so much, so suffice to say that I have used this reaction to avoid reading any of his other works.

Still, my friends would ask, so what if I hated that
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Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly ...more
More about Dave Eggers...

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“Be strong, be brave, be true. Endure.” 55 likes
“Every time a crime was committed by a Muslim, that person's faith was mentioned, regardless of its relevance. When a crime is committed by a Christian, do they mention his religion? ... When a crime is committed by a black man, it's mentioned in the first breath: 'An African American man was arrested today...' But what about German Americans? Anglo Americans? A white man robs a convenience store and do we hear he's of Scottish descent? In no other instance is the ancestry mentioned.” 26 likes
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