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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  76,632 ratings  ·  7,924 reviews
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 watch over the business. In the days f
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published July 15th 2009 by McSweeney's
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Colette I'm trying to separate the two "Zeitoun" images in my mind (having just read his recent history). I really liked the book. Hopefully, with some time, …moreI'm trying to separate the two "Zeitoun" images in my mind (having just read his recent history). I really liked the book. Hopefully, with some time, I will remember the book and not the headlines I just read, which are so disheartening.
Perhaps the recent history (as in the last 7 years) stems from the mental/emotional/physical effects of what happened as related in the book. Super sad and not the made-for-movie ending anyone wants.(less)
Baron This is a great story that shows how tough times can change people. I really recommend this book because it shows that how having a strong mindset can…moreThis is a great story that shows how tough times can change people. I really recommend this book because it shows that how having a strong mindset can get you through the worst disasters.(less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  76,632 ratings  ·  7,924 reviews

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Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
LA Cantrell
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Y'all. This book is VERY LIKELY FICTION and poor Eggers got conned, bless his heart. The Zeitouns/Zetons painted our 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. If you check the logs of the NOLA Better Business Bureau, there were more complaints lodged against their painting business than all of the other combi ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-fiction
The book club I belonged to several years ago selected Zeitoun and we had a week to read it. I enjoyed the book and hadn't realized how many horrible things happened in New Orleans besides the actual impact of the hurricane. Based on some reality, the story helps a non-Louisiana native understand the true impacts of the hurricane, not only on the land but on the people.

The imagery and language were strong, and the characterizations were very intricate. Since reading the books, I've spent time in
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
Richard Derus
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been revised and extended. It can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud. ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This easy-to-read docu-fiction is NOT about the misery caused by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the summer of 2005. The real subject of Eggers is the inadequate organization of American society and how quickly it can descend to the level of a banana republic. He uses the example of the well-integrated Syrian migrant, Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family, living and working in New Orleans. Due to the hurricane, Zeitoun gets into great difficulties and has to undergo numerous humiliations. This ...more
Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse)
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 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jun 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
If I may say so without sounding like a heartless wench, after hearing about Hurricane Katrina every day of my life for about three straight years, I was in no mood to also read a book based on one of its many survivors. I know it was a horrible, deplorable event but felt that Brian Williams stayed on that story a bit too long, or too often, for its own good. My heart broke for the people, I did what I could, and felt horrible I couldn't do more, and that our government did not do more good. Wha ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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:

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
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Book Concierge
EDITED, July 2019 - Multiple reports from residents of NOLA have pointed out that Abdul Zeitoun is a con man and felon. The veracity of much of Eggers' tale is in question ... probably because the Zeitouns gave him false information. I'm leaving my rating and review as it stands because of the qualify of Eggers' writing of the story. But to call it NONfiction is probably a stretch.


Book on CD performed by Firdous Bamji.

This is a true story of what happened to one family in P
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Elyse Walters
this is a MUST read book........

must, must, must!!!!!!!!!!

i had no idea innocent people were put in a man-made prison in new orleans during katrina. `shameful`...[unreal story which took place in our country:].

do not...`NOT` read this book.

the story of this married couple...'the `zeitoun's` is a story you'll never forget.

love elyse
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Nov 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Andrew Martin
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
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
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Greg Brozeit
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: no-la
This book belongs on that short shelf of essential classics such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Cry, the Beloved Country. The great tragedy of Zeitoun is that he suffered for doing what all of us would hope to do in similar circumstances--the best we can in times of crisis to help our neighbors. The sheer hell that Zeitoun, his family, and the countless, nameless people who suffered during the aftermath of Katrina went through is a modern parable we should all heed.

Despite the subsequent
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 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Lee Klein
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Zeitoun is a supposedly non-fiction account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his wife Kathy during Hurricane Katrina. While Kathy and their children flee New Orleans, Zeitoun (he is mostly referred to by his surname) stays behind and disobeys orders to evacuate, preferring to watch over the houses they own and their business in the city. Subsequentely, he is arrested and thrown in a make-shift prizon on false charges.

I thought it was an interesting book, and I wasn't aware of the political and social
May 27, 2012 added it
Shelves: disturbia, 2012
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
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
a) This is disaster porn. The first disaster is Katrina. The second disaster is the US Security State of Paranoid Repression.

b) That second disaster makes the True Story Behind The Story irrelevant. It doesn't matter one iota about what kind of character Zeitoun really was. Because the US Security State of Paranoid Repression is illegitimate. No one deserves this kind of repression. Not even the worst rapist murderer terrorist younameit.

c) I thought it was about the Katrina disaster so I was goi
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Play Book Tag: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - 3 stars 4 22 Oct 10, 2021 08:43PM  
Play Book Tag: Zeitoun / Dave Eggers. 4 stars 1 11 Sep 09, 2020 08:55PM  
Play Book Tag: Zeitoun - Dave Eggers - 4 stars 1 16 Jun 14, 2016 08:25PM  
Play Book Tag: Zeitoun / Dave Eggers - 5***** 4 15 May 13, 2016 07:09AM  
Nonfiction Naviga...: Hurricane Katrina Survival Story 1 5 Dec 03, 2015 06:57AM  

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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

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