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Katrina's Lessons

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He watched his world fall apart. Now Jed Horne wonders what lessons can be learned from failure.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jed Horne will discuss “Learning from Katrina: Disaster as a Laboratory for the Urban Future” on Monday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m., in the Bonchek Lecture Hall, in the Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building.

The author of Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City, Horne led a team of reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune who won two Pulitzers in 2006 for their coverage of the devastating hurricane and its aftermath.

Breach of Faith was named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year and was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Helen Berstein Award for best book-length work of journalism.

Hurricane Katrina shredded one of the great cities of the South, and as levees failed and the federal relief effort proved lethally incompetent, a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe.

As an editor of the Times-Picayune, Horne has had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama of the city’s collapse into chaos and its continuing struggle to survive and revive itself.

Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weave a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense — all of these lives collide in a chronicle that is harrowing, angry and often slyly ironic.

Horne began his career with the Boston Phoenix and worked as a writer and editor. He has also reported for Time magazine.

The talk is sponsored by the American Studies Department, the Center for Liberal Arts and Society and the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House. It is free and open to the public.

On Dec. 9 at noon, the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House will host a lunch for Horne and offer students a chance to discuss writing with him.