His wife and their children evacuated New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina swept the Gulf Coast, but Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born contractor, stayed behind to look after his house and those he was working on. When the storm had passed and floods inundated his city, Zeitoun believed he was meant to help as many people as he could. Eventually, though, he was arrested on an unspecified charge and taken to a makeshift jail where his pleas for understanding and justice were met with indifference and mistrust. Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun (McSweeney’s, $24) is a gripping piece of narrative non-fiction, recounting just one personal story in a disaster that affected millions of people. Zeitoun’s story of altruism countered by prejudice and violence, though, is one all too representative of our recent history.
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