Gary Rivlin

Speech Topics

Former New York Times reporter and author, Gary Rivlin, presents a keynote based on his critically-acclaimed Katrina: After the Flood, on the lessons learned from overcoming the worst urban disaster in modern U.S. history.

Most of New Orleans sat under water when journalist Gary Rivlin arrived there as part of the “storm team” the New York Times assembled to cover Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Rivlin, an award-winning journalist, spent the next ten years chronicling New Orleans’s struggle to overcome a disaster that left 80 percent of the city under water. Gary tells the amazing story behind the rebuilding of this most beguiling of American cities. Dubbed a “lean, taught narrative” by USA Today, Katrina highlights the grit and tenacity of the every-day people who overcame everything from red-tape to fights with insurance companies to ill-conceived government policies that favored some neighborhoods over others. “The definitive story of Hurricane Katrina,” wrote the Huffington Post; “a magnificently reported account of life in a broken, waterlogged city,” according to Kirkus Reviews of Katrina: Rivlin’s message is a hopeful one about a city on the brink that, while different than it was before Katrina, is once again an extraordinary, vibrant town.

Gary Rivlin presents a unique and riveting exploration of one of America’s largest and fastest-growing industries—the business of poverty. Broke, USA is a Fast Food Nation for the “poverty industry” that will also appeal to readers of Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and David Shipler (The Working Poor).


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Gary Rivlin’s latest book is the critically acclaimed Katrina: After the Flood, which has been called “a sprawling, epic tale…heartbreaking” by Publisher’s Weekly. Katrina traces the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes—politicians and business owners, teachers and bus drivers, poor and wealthy, black and white—as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age and reconstruct, change, and in some cases abandon a city that’s the soul of this nation.

Gary is the author of six books in all.  His first, Fire on the Prairie: Chicago’s Harold Washington and the Politics of Race, won the 1993 Carl Sandburg Award for Best Nonfiction, and his second book, Drive-By, was a New York Times notable book of the year and a finalist for a PEN-West award.  He has worked as a staff reporter for The New York Times, where his beats included Silicon Valley and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Salon, Newsweek, and Wired, among other publications.

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