Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America

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Oxford University Press, Jul 20, 2006 - History - 336 pages
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As the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain began to pour into New Orleans, people began asking the big question--could any of this have been avoided? How much of the damage from Hurricane Katrina was bad luck, and how much was poor city planning? Steinberg's Acts of God is a provocative history of natural disasters in the United States. This revised edition features a new chapter analyzing the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, a disaster Steinberg warned could happen when the book first was published. Focusing on America's worst natural disasters, Steinberg argues that it is wrong to see these tragedies as random outbursts of nature's violence or expressions of divine judgment. He reveals how the decisions of business leaders and government officials have paved the way for the greater losses of life and property, especially among those least able to withstand such blows--America's poor, elderly, and minorities. Seeing nature or God as the primary culprit, Steinberg explains, has helped to hide the fact that some Americans are simply better able to protect themselves from the violence of nature than others. In the face of revelations about how the federal government mishandled the Katrina calamity, this book is a must-read before further wind and water sweep away more lives. Acts of God is a call to action that needs desperately to be heard.
 

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Contents

FEDERALIZING RISK
77
CONTAINING CALAMITY
125
Notes
213
Bibliography
277
Index
293
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Ted Steinberg teaches history at Case Western Reserve University and is the author of Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History and American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn. His essays have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Natural History, and The New York Times.

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