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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 started recognizing it for what it is -- David Eggers is simply enthusiastic, ebullient about ideas and people. He can't help himself. He has an idea and he wants it big or bigger. He wants Zeitoun's story written across the sky. For most of us the wish or desire is enough. It fills us up. We are done there and can go to bed and rest comfortably. The brilliance of the idea quickly gets burned out as the sun of the rest of our lives burns our dreams away. The brilliance (or genius) of David Eggers is his ability to follow up on these quirky little ideas. He has tremendous follow-through. He doesn't forget, he doesn't dispose, he uses and crafts and makes and publishes.
Not every book written by Eggers will be genius, but his ENERGY is always genius. His momentum is always brilliant. And, 'Zeitoun' the book was brilliant. It showed the beauty of people and the inhumanity of bureaucracies. It is the story of America. How America can contain both the best and the worst of humanity, often lit by the same light and drowned/baptized by the same waters.
28 of 31 people found this review helpful
Eggers is an excellent teller of other people's stories, as illustrated by his brilliant "What is the What," the story of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng. In Zeitoun, he tells the story of a Syrian-American, a successful New Orleans contracter for years, who is wrongfully imprisoned by FEMA in the wake of Katrina. The contrast between the warmth, vitality and manifest goodness of the Zeitoun family, and the impersonal brutality and incompetence of the "military occupation" authorities who took over New Orleans is striking and sobering. A "must listen," even if "What is the What" is a richer story and slightly better narrated.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
This is a good book, which tells the terrible story of how this poor man was treated by the US authorities. It is also a rather telling account of how said authorities dealt with the aftermath of Katrina. It was mostly a good read, but it left me annoyed, frustrated and quite horrified.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Although I am by no means a supporter of the George W Bush administration, a natural lefty and, in American terms, a Democrat - this supposed frontal assault on red-neck, jingoistic, Republicanism literally in the wake of Hurricane Katrina seems to end up scoring more own goals than home runs. Despite repeated instructions on the part of the authorities to leave New Orleans the supposed ‘hero‘ of the book chose of his own free will to stay in town and look after his property. Those ‘oppressing‘ Police, National Guards and Civil Authorities were then obliged to put their own lives in peril by being obliged to go into the city to effect ‘rescues,‘ in the process running the risk of natural dangers and those from the albeit very small number of criminals who used the opportunity to loot their way through the wreckage. His wife in the meantime, faced with the fact that while she chooses to make a visible and daily symbol of her devotion to an all-loving God but cannot stand to be in the same house as her mother and immediate family even for a few days in a time of crisis, decamps over 1,000 miles away.At worst American society can display all that is deplorable in human nature - racism, paranoia and a total disregard for personal liberty when it gets in the way of the perceived ‘greater good.’ Here, however, a total disregard for the safety of others, the needs of the wider family members, a delusion of persecution and unwarranted self-importance are all on display and, unfortunately, whilst one finger points forward, there are three fingers pointing back to the accuser.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful