Monday, August 30, 2010
Bienville's Dilemma sounds like a very good book on New Orleans.
"The idea of a dilemma," Campanella said, "has helped me come to terms with our challenges here, mostly in issues of land loss and natural hazard risks, if you think of them as dilemmas first and problems second. First and foremost, there are the choices we have to make based on value judgments, and once the difficult choice is made you have a problem that can be solved by good science and engineering. But your first choice may render an unforeseen consequence. I find all this intellectually stimulating as well as morally challenging."
Campanella is such a riveting writer that he can make anything fascinating -- the composition of soil; the battle for control of water; patterns of settlement in the city; the history of Creolism, which he calls "our home-grown ethnicity"; the ways in which we have "scored and scoured" the land, with canals and levees, structures that were originally designed for our safety but have become sources of hazard; the way we have made groceries since the very beginning; the pride of being a New Orleans native; the developments of wards and faubourgs.