Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: The Inevitable City: The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from palgrave Mcmillan Publishing,via LibraryThing , for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

There have been hundreds of books about NOLA, Hurricane Katrina and recovery.

This book is different, as it asks, what has gone right that can be echoed around the country.
For once NOLA is a leader, making this an important book!

The Inevitable City: The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America cover


After seven years of service as the president of Tulane University, Scott Cowen watched the devastation of his beloved New Orleans at the hands of Hurricane Katrina. When federal, state, and city officials couldn’t find their way to decisive action, Cowen, known for his gutsy leadership, quickly partnered with a coalition of civic, business, and nonprofit leaders looking to work around the old institutions to revitalize and transform New Orleans. This team led the charge to restore equilibrium and eventually to rebuild. For the past nine years, Cowen has continued this work, helping to bring the city of New Orleans back from the brink. The Inevitable City presents 10 principles that changed the game for this city, and, if adopted, can alter the curve for any business, endeavor, community—and perhaps even a nation.

This is the story of the resurgence and reinvention of one of America’s greatest cities. Ordinary citizens, empowered to actively rescue their own city after politicians and government officials failed them, have succeeded in rebuilding their world. Cowen was at the leading edge of those who articulated, shaped, and implemented a vision of transformative change that has yielded surprising social progress and economic growth: a drowned city identified with the shocking images of devastation and breakdown has transformed itself into a mecca of growth, opportunity, and hope.


History says the spoils go to the victors. In NOLA's case, the victor was Hurricane Katrina, who disappeared. So it was up to those remaining to come together to see the city brought back from the literal and real cliff of destruction. Cowen presents a real picture of what happened, where leadership failed, leading to greater destruction, and how the sense of working together toward the same goal, has allowed NOLA to let go of some pre-ordained norms, to try different avenues (like charter schools) and achieve greater success, through rebuilding infra-structure and business alike. This is not a pick it up and hurry read, nor a diary of Cowen's life after Katrina, but a sharing of the good, the bad and the ugly, and the new, and how any city at the same brink, can be turned around, if the people there CARE to see their city brought back. That is the key that Cowan's book ultimately honors- how caring about others has allowed the resurgence of NOLA to come about. The book makes for interesting reading and I highly recommend it!

About the Author: 

Scott Cowen is president of Tulane University and was one of the key players in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. His work has been widely covered by the media, including Fast Company Magazine, Newark-based The Star-LedgerThe New York Times, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is also a guest panelist on the Sirius talk show “Doctor Radio.” TIME magazine has named President Cowen one of the nation’s Top 10 Best College Presidents and New Orleans CityBusiness called him one of the 30 “Driving Forces” in New Orleans in the last 30 years

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