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Below the Water Line


Absorbing, instructive testimony from a “lucky” Katrina evacuee/returnee.

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A New Orleans–based nurse educator shares the challenges that she and her family faced following Hurricane Katrina.

Like many, Karlin, a nurse educator, and her surgeon husband, Rich, didn’t evacuate their New Orleans home in advance of Katrina until mandated. With two kids and two dogs in tow, they drove toward Houston, hit standstill traffic, aimed next for Florida, and landed in a Mississippi motel that a friend had wisely booked. Riding out the storm there, with flooding, power outages, and scant food, they then made their way to Houston, helping to rescue a man in a horrible car accident en route and getting strange looks due to their bedraggled state, which included Rich’s black eye (inflicted by their anxious dog). Karlin secured an apartment in Houston, and her children attended an overcrowded school. Her husband returned to New Orleans to provide “C-team” medical relief. While the Karlin home wasn’t terribly damaged, the general devastation forced Karlin’s husband to take another surgery gig outside of the city to pay the bills. Karlin had to flee Houston during Hurricane Rita and New Orleans again for Hurricane Gustav and became adept at emergency preparedness. She concludes with an epilogue detailing how her family is now thriving and includes snapshots of the “misery tour” they took of New Orleans and surrounding areas shortly after Katrina. She celebrates NOLA spirit and the heartwarming charity she experienced, which prompted her own outreach following Hurricane Sandy. While the hardships that Karlin details pale in comparison to the horrors that others in New Orleans endured, she provides an important record of how even seemingly privileged lives were upended by this natural catastrophe. “It’s hard to imagine that surgeons needed to work two jobs in order to recover from Katrina,” Karlin writes. Her first-person narrative, a series of dated journal entries, is by turns heartbreaking (she found a “crying spot” at their shelter motel) and amusing (her multiple evacuations were “like the whack-a-mole game at Chuck E. Cheese’s”) and also includes helpful tips.

Absorbing, instructive testimony from a “lucky” Katrina evacuee/returnee. 

Pub Date: July 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962327-0-8

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Centennial

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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