1)         How did this book make you feel overall? 

2)         How did you feel about the US Government and were you surprised by it? 

3)         What did you think of Kathy’s mysterious symptoms?   Early Parkinson’s, post-traumatic stress, reaction to mold, mildew, etc?

4)         So much was not said about the people left in the Super Dome or Convention Center, but the news was focused on their plight.  This story had some comparisons between those who stayed in New Orleans, those who went to the shelters, and those who went to prison.  Who, do you think, was better off and what would do you think you would have done?

5)         Kathy, in her search for religious grounding, found Islam and the Quran’s close similarities to the Bible, it was a revelation for her (evangelical upbringing).  Has this ever happened for you, too?

6)         Zeitoun, so exhausted, sleeps until he hears the gush of water arriving from the sea after the initial storm has passed.  Amazing…



This is a non-fiction and starts in Syria, fishing for Sardines.   Abdulrahman is 13 years old…now 47 in New Orleans.  Older brother, Ahmad, lives in Spain while father, Mahmoud, is ship’s crew.

PG 32 –           Ahmad had always told Zeitoun “if a sailor finds the right port or the right woman, he’ll drop anchor.”  And that is what Zeitoun did when he met Ahmaad who introduced him to Kathy.

Pg. 37-38         A Southern belle customer tells Kathy she only wants white people & another questions the origin of Zeitoun’s name.  Key topic – racism and religious affiliations when describing someone

Pg 54-56          Discuss how religions are soooo similar!  Qur’an meant “recitation”

Pg 55               Kathy goes to the evangelical church nearby and finds some things that bother her, for instance the collection plate story… so true!


Pg 60               Sunday, Aug 28 – outer fringes arrive, canoe readied

Pg 65               Monday, Aug 29 – storm arrives – Zeitoun sleeps through it.

Pg 73               Tuesday, Aug 30 – sea of water arrives -  Zeitoun in tent on roof – dogs

Pg 79-85          Aug. 31 – 200 lb 80 year old woman… elders big saved –

Pg 90               “it was the very nature of the small, silent craft…”

Pg 92               Mouneer Deeb – Syrian swimmer

Pg 93               The Zeitouns were extraordinary

Pg 99               foreshadowing – a reason he’d stayed…

Odd scenes:      pg 115 floating body
                        Pg 121             Horses on patch of grass
                        Pg 121 prostitute and Zeitoun wondering if there was any “market” for her
                        Pg 122             the dogs that were killed

Thought – Any religions connection/ story to moral

Pg 131             by now are you thinking Zeitoun is a dead man?

Pg 133             The Ah-Hah moment when Zeitoun is called to the door by Nasser…what did you think happened to them?

Pg 139             now do you think they were forced to evacuate?  Even good guys can be delusional

Pg 158             Israeli mercenaries from the Instinctive Shooting International…thousands of soldiers, Blackwater USA hired by Dept. of Homeland Security, police from other states, and FEMA’s Red Cell.
P.O. Box 6528
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Phone: (713) 666-0269, (866) 586-4949
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Provides specialized counterterrorism training for law enforcement, military, and government agencies. Manufactures and sells firearms safety devices.

BLACKWATER                     WIKIPEDIA

Xe Services LLC (pronounced /ˈziː/ zee) is a private military company founded as Blackwater USA in 1997 by Erik Prince andAl Clark.[2][3] The company has a wide array of business divisions, subsidiaries, and spin-off corporations but the organization as a whole has aroused significant controversy.[4][5][6][7][8] The Iraq War documents leak showed that Blackwater employees committed serious abuses in Iraq, including killing civilians.[9] Altogether, the documents reveal fourteen separate shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces, which resulted in the deaths of ten civilians and the wounding of seven others, not including the Nisoor Square massacre that killed seventeen civilians. A third of the shootings occurred while Blackwater forces were guarding US diplomats.[10]

RIOTUSA                                On Fema Red Cell

FEMA Death Camps And The Red And Blue List Under Martial Law


Pam Schuffert

While I have no doubt that the NWO-cravers at the CIA have their own list of people to round up and terminate, the actual proper agency behind the now-infamous "RED/BLUE LISTS" is none other than "FEMA BLACK OPS." FEMA is NOT here to primarily HELP YOU. Under a full state of MARTIAL LAW, FEMA is here to send you to their DETENTION CAMPS to sort out WHO SHALL live AND WHO SHALL DIE. Those unfortunates whose names are found among the MILLIONS OF FELLOW AMERICANS on FEMA RED / BLUE LISTS will never come out of the FEMA CAMPS alive, although they may have to go through hell before they are finally terminated. Such "offenders" are essentially deemed RESISTERS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER, as my CIA and military insiders told me personally. "Oh, ALL OF US in the CIA know ALL ABOUT the concentration camps in America and their purpose! We ALL KNOW that their purpose is to TERMINATE 'RESISTERS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER' UNDER MARTIAL LAW!" (Source-Michael Maholy, 20 years Naval Intelligence/CIA under BUSH SR) For example, THE FEMA DEATH CAMP OF THE MOJAVE is a full gassing/cremating DEATH CAMP, dedicated to the TERMINATION OF ALL ON FEMA'S RED/BLUE LIST UNDER MARTIAL LAW.  (more)


Pg 163             Zeituoun is in jail!


Pg 170             Accused of being Al Queda

Pg 171             Accused of being Taliban

Pg 175             Mechanical drone

Pg 216             “But now these hopes could be put to rest.”  The country was infallible!
                                    Camp Greyhound…Zeitoun arrested Tues, 9/6 and released Thurs 9/29…23

Pg 248             six weeks after trailer delivered by FEMA, the key is given to them.  But it is declared unsafe due to its leaning.  Why didn’t Zeitoun just remove the lock on the door and fix the steps himself?  He is a contractor!

Pg 249             the trailer sits there for 14 months!

Pg 250             hired a lawyer – Louis Koerner – to pursue a civil suit against the city, state, prisons, police department and a half-fozen other agencies and individuals, including the mayor.

Pg 251             account of officer Gonzales relating to arrest

Pg 253             account of officer Lima

Pg 254             Red cell group of FEMA

Pg 256             Angola Prison provided the prisoners to build Camp Greyhound…it had toilets where the Super Dome & Convention Center did not.

Pg 263             Todd Gambino – 5 months in jail; all charges dropped.  Nassar Dayoob – 6 months in jail; all charges dropped.  Ronnie – 8 months in prison; no word about charges.

Pg 267             McSweeney’s?  Proceeeds from book.


What causes do you think there are to have written this book?  To right a wrong?  Create a movement?  Raise money/awareness?

From “The Sunday Salon” --

During national tragedies, when everything seems to break down, how do our ideals hold up?

In the face of unimaginable fear, what are you willing to sacrifice?



“Notes About This Book” (xv) gives a sense of how the book was written, whose point of view it reflects, and Eggers’s efforts at accuracy and truth in his depiction of events. By choosing to portray the response to the hurricane through its effects on one family, what kind of story (or history) does he achieve?

2. The book opens with “Friday, August 26,” an expository chapter that introduces us to Zeitoun’s family life and his business life, the two very interconnected. What are some of the ways in which the descriptions here draw you in as a reader, and make these people and their situation real? Why is the timeline a good structural choice for this story?

3. Kathy has grown up as a Southern Baptist. Drawn to Islam through her childhood friend Yuko, she decides to convert. Why, when she comes to visit wearing her hijab, does her mother tell her, “Now you can take that thing off” (57)? Why does the prayer from the Qur’an quoted on page 51 have a strong effect on her? What does her reaction to the evangelical preacher who mocks Islam and says that Kathy’s temptation to convert was the work of the devil (65–66), say about Kathy’s character and intelligence?

4. Do Abdulrahman, Kathy and their children make up an unusual American family, or not? How would you describe the relationship between Zeitoun and Kathy, in marriage and in business? What effect does their religion have on the way others in the community see them? 

5. Why has Eggers woven into the story accounts of Zeitoun’s past in Syria, his upbringing, his brother Mohammed, the champion swimmer, his brother Ahmad, and their close bond? What effect does this framework of family have on your perception of Zeitoun’s character, his ethics, his behavior?

6. The plight of the neighborhood’s abandoned dogs comes to Zeitoun’s attention as “a bewilderment, an anger in their cries that cut the night into shards” (93). The next day, he sets out in the canoe and tries to do what he can for animals and people trapped by the flood. How does Zeitoun feel about what he is doing? How does he think about these days after he has been imprisoned (262–64)? 

7. Discuss what happens when Zeitoun and the others are forced to get into the boat and are taken into custody. Is it clear why they are being arrested? What assumptions are made about Zeitoun and the other three men (275–87)?

8. Part IV (203–90) tells the story of Zeitoun’s imprisonment. Here we learn in great detail how Zeitoun is denied the right to call Kathy, how his injured foot is not attended to, how the other men are beaten, stripped, and starved, how he prays constantly, yet loses hope. What is the impact, as you read, of this narrative?

9. “Zeitoun is a more powerful indictment of America’s dystopia in the Bush era than any number of well-written polemics” (Timothy Egan, New York Times, August 13, 2009). Would you agree with this statement? Can Zeitoun be read as a contribution to the history of hurricane Katrina and the failure of government to handle the disaster effectively?

10. Discuss Kathy’s situation, and her actions once she learns where Zeitoun is. The aftermath is more difficult, and she still suffers from physical and psychological problems that seem to be the result of post-traumatic stress. What was the most traumatic part of her experience, and why (319)?

11. Given that the other men who were imprisoned with Zeitoun were held much longer than he was, and that Nasser lost his life savings, is it surprising that these men were not compensated in any way for their time in prison (320–21)?
12. What is Zeitoun’s feeling now about what happened? How does he move forward into the future, as expressed in the book’s closing pages (322-25)?

13. If you have read What is the What, Eggers’ novel about Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, how does Zeitouncompare? Discuss Eggers’ approach to writing about traumatic regional and political events through the lives of individuals impacted by them.   
(Questions issued by publisher.)