Catherine's Reviews > Zeitoun

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
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's review
Sep 11, 12

liked it
bookshelves: kindle, nonfiction, library-loan, disaster, american-south, hurricane, flood, louisiana, new-orleans, immigrant-experience
Read in August, 2011

I liked this true story of Syrian immigrant Zeitoun, his American wife and their family, but so many reviewers focused on Zeitoun's post-Katrina arrest for "terrorism" that it somewhat skewed my perception of the book when I found it wasn't actually true. Zeitoun was mistakenly arrested by FEMA for looting (some of his knuckleheaded guards nicknamed him "al-Qaida," but he was not charged with being a terrorist). What he endured was frightening, frustrating, and infuriating and he spent a month in a maximum-security prison. Almost as an aside, it is mentioned that the three neighbors who were arrested along with him spent much longer in prison (3, 6, and 8 months), although they were equally innocent. Why wasn't the author indignant on their behalf? To call this a book about the "triumph of the human spirit" is hyperbole. It was an interesting story of a decent and caring man who sometimes was overconfident, and of how FEMA's incompetence led to the suspension of civil rights in New Orleans after Katrina. But I guess putting THAT on the book jacket wouldn't sell copies.

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