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The Wind in the Reeds

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  261 ratings  ·  56 reviews
From acclaimed actor and producer Wendell Pierce, an insightful and poignant portrait of family, New Orleans and the transforming power of art.

On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled into New Orleans, devastating many of the city's neighborhoods, including Pontchartrain Park, the home of Wendell Pierce's family and the first African American middle-c
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Riverhead Books
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Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Wind in the Reeds

I almost didn't read this book because of all of the books I had already read in the past two months with the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2015. If I would have known before I started reading this book that this was about Wendell Pierce's life, our New Orleans hometown actor who acted in "Treme" and also "The Wire" I would have made this the first book I read. This was the best memoir that I have read in a very very long time. Wendell Pierce is one of
Kasa Cotugno
This is so much more than a memoir.

Having known Pierce only through his major work in The Wire and Treme, and occasional glimpses of him in auxiliary roles in other films, I was drawn to this book by an interview I heard in which he described his New Orleans roots and most notably, his efforts to found a grocery store chain in what is called "supermarket deserts," providing healthful low-cost foods to poorer neighborhoods. Even to providing taxi service, for free, for customers unable to drive
Ray Palen
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Actor Wendell Pierce ironically starred in the terrific HBO series "Treme" about New Orleans slowly bouncing back from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Who would have thought this solid actor could write like this!?!? THE WIND IN THE REEDS not only talks about Pierce's childhood neighborhood that was devastate by Katrina but also shows how it was able to bounce back. Interspersing stories, family lore and bits of history he is able to breath life into this close-knit neighborhood and make th
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, memoir, nonfiction
I was already a big fan of Wendell Pierce after watching him play Bunk in The Wire & Antoine in Treme. I had no idea he was such a great writer or speaker until I happened to see him at Wordstock in the fall, and I was also unaware that he had trained in acting at Julliard & had a theater background. If you haven't seen the two shows, you might not be as excited about this book as I was. The book's premise is about producing a play in New Orleans after Katrina, but it's really more of a ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This was quite an enjoyable read--perhaps far more than I expected. I picked it up because I've admired Pierce as an actor and for what I have read he has done in New Orleans since hurricane Katrina. Reading about his family's history and how he came into his life as an actor was quite intriguing. I love the way he views the role of art in society and the possibility for change that it has. This is what makes me crave art in all its forms the most. It is also quite moving to read about how he we ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wendell Pierce is currently best known for his roles on both "The Wire" and "Treme" although, at only 53, he probably has many more notable acting gigs in his future.

"The Wind in the Reeds" is less an autobiography and more of a journey. Pierce's narrative follows his slave ancestors as well as many other members of his family tree who ultimately made a life for themselves in New Orleans. And Pierce is as much about New Orleans as New Orleans is about Pierce.

I was very impressed with the level o
Dan Downing
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Why read this book? If you start it, you will soon realize it is not written as elegantly or with the power of a great writer. Okay. Few books are. What it does convey to us is a large part of the answer to the question, "What does it mean to be an American?"
Pierce and his co-author, Rod Dreher, well manage disparate stages of the National scene and of Pierce's life. As is common in biographies, we journey back into his families' past, then his boyhood, exploring the routes by which he came into
Jordan Stivers
I just couldn't get through this one. The first couple of chapters are interesting as the writer details his family history in the area. But, even then, there's nothing to pull you back into the book. Memoirs often have this problem with keeping interest on the reader's side. That said, I didn't mind the cursing (I think I would curse if I had lived through Hurricane Katrina too.) as it is a memoir and I find that language acceptable in this format. I wish I would have liked it more but some boo ...more
Beatrice Desper
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This was my second read of this book. I get so much more on a second read of a great book. This is one of those.Such an inspiring book especially those living in southern Louisiana and were here for Katrina.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Found this great book at the Dollar Tree only because it about NOLA, the town my parents retired to. Looking forward to checking out his work (Treme and The Wire). Wish he had included some pictures, even if it was after 2005.
Really a 3.75 I'd say, totally worth reading if you're interested in New Orleans, art, US history, the African American experience, families, etc. etc. (i.e., many of us).
Kathleen E
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Listened to this book. Interesting insight into Pierce’s roles in The Wire and Treme.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-2018
Stumbled upon this book and so thankful I did. What a great story Wendell Pierce has- I already loved him in Treme, but learned so much more about him.... incredible.
Shelly Brander
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I needed a Treme fix and this delivered. Very good writing but it needed a better editor. The history sections were my favorite
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
More than a memoir, this is love letter to his parents, the arts and New Orleans. It reminded me of a time, place and childhood that many of us experienced but is not often written about. A mix of New Orleans history, a rich love of family, coming of age and the importance of the arts. A quiet treasure.
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I found the second half much more powerful than the first -- I almost didn't make it there though, and I'm glad I stuck it out.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Wind in the Reeds is a moving and poignant memoir from actor Wendell Pierce, and his rootedness and connection to southern Louisiana, family and especially life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. While centered on Pierce's life and how he grew up and developed a career, the moving centerpiece is Pierce's use of his acting, particularly in the presentation of "Waiting for Godot" in the neighborhood he grew up in.

Pierce details his family's history, from a rural life that c
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a moving, beautiful book. It should first be mentioned that this is more an autobiography by Pierce than it is simply a reflection on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans. Much of the narrative is about Pierce's history and his ancestors' experience under slavery and Jim Crow, but in a way this all sets the stage to understand the destruction of New Orleans in the hurricane, as well as the indomitable spirit of its people that has allowed it to withstand and thrive.

I parti
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have no idea what to tell you this book was about, but it was great. A little childhood in New Orleans, a little musing on the nature of acting and art and jazz, a little ruminating on Catholicism, and a smattering of pages on the play-by-play of what happened during hurricane Katrina, and there you have it.

I would likely never have picked this book up, if I hadn't heard through the (fairly quiet bookish) grapevine that Rod Dreher had written it "with" Wendell Pierce. Dreher's voice definitely
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Great book that looks at the culture of a city and a people and music etc.

Raw in some parts and certainly not Christian. I enjoyed seeing the view of someone who has lived lke I have through devastation. I should write a book to compare the people of Joplin through the Tornado and the people of New Orleans through the flood.

I also found it quite interesting to see his view of how a city comes back and his resistance to developers and such that could have helped rebuild city. He was so set on ke
Jonathan Hiskes
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Catholic son of New Orleans and my favorite actor gives an eloquent testament to the power of art to sustain people through adversity and give voice to what a culture values in its shared imagination. Pierce braids the story of his career through Julliard, Broadway, The Wire, and Treme with the story of his beloved city, giving special homage to the support of his parents through his life. That sort of unabashed gratitude to parents doesn't come out often in modern memoirs, and it's especially ...more
Joan Broadfield
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Joan by: Elisabeth DuVerlie
This is a mixed bag. Parts about family and the aftermath of Katrina are poignant, warm and give a picture of family struggle and reward and disappointment... really worth reading. I was disappointed by the chapter on The Wire. Knowing today what we do about the police culture, I was sad that somehow back in 2001-5, his flashes of insight gave way to 'the party line' of policing that he was acting in. He does, however, give an important account of the pressures of living the life of a 'cop'... I ...more
Gregory Butera
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a poignant look at a city and a people that would not be defeated by a storm or a flood or the bureaucracy and neglect of a government. Part personal memoir about Mr Pierce and his family, part anecdote about his performance of Waiting for Godot in the devastated ninth ward following the massive flood post Hurricane Katrina, and also a look into his work on The Wire and Treme. If you are a Wendell Pierce fan this is a great way to connect deeply with his story. If you are just curious a ...more
Lois Camphausen
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
The best parts of this book were about Wendell Pierce's ancestors particularly his parents. Their determination and strength in the face of racism. The community that he came from is what scholars cite as the best example of how to raise children...every child's parent is every child's parent. Children are watched over and held accountable by every adult in the community. Wendell is right to want to recreate this after was a stabilizing force for the children in the community where ...more
Nov 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
The stories are well told, but the book itself is misleading and uneven in its focus. I did not anticipate long stretches recounting conversations in NYC while he was attending Juilliard or extolling the virtues of Catholic confession. And one futile request: when beautifully explaining the relevance of Treme to post-Katrina New Orleans, please refrain from detailing how several major plot arcs turn out. Come on now. Truly, Pierce does tie it all together, and I wouldn't dare think I can say wha ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I heard him speak about this book in an interview at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and he radiated passion for New Orleans and for the importance of art. These feelings hugely come through in the book as well, but I was somewhat disappointed with the overall work. He repeats many of his points, such that his emotional descriptions stop feeling like "holy smokes" and become just "right, you said that already." It is also much more of a play-by-play of his life than I had expected.

But still s
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I picked up this audiobook after listening to an interview with Wendell Pierce on NPR. I originally thought that this was going to be a book about the power of art in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, what Pierce has written is a moving memoir, family history, and New Orleans homage. Pierce's family story in the telling of the American dream writ large through the history of a southern African-American family from slavery to the middle class. The book takes a poignant turn ...more
Ms W
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
MsW: OK, Wendell Pierce is my new favorite guy to research after hearing his panel at TxBkFest. An actor starring on, among others, Waiting to Exhale, The Wire, Treme and Selma doesn't move me...but hearing him speak about the writing process and 'art as a tangible benevolence' got my attention. Great play on words in his book title, too. Part Biblical homage to his mom, part homage to New Orleans, his hometown and central character in this memoir of how art intersected disaster to help rebuild ...more
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who knows what it means to miss New Orleans.
At first I thought he was just padding a brief story into a full book, but ultimately he ties in interesting theories about the cultural power and importance of art. It works. It's also firmly rooted in a historically African American perspective that is illuminating without being preachy or (somehow) bitter. There are some hard truths in here that might make up the bulk of the material along with brief tales of Katrina, The Wire, and Treme. Weaving the common threads together makes the book wor ...more
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