Block, Robert 1960-
Block, Robert 1960-
PERSONAL: Born 1960. Hobbies and other interests: Guitars, motorcycles, and Labrador retrievers.
CAREER: Journalist. Reuters, London, England, 1982-90, began as Mexico correspondent, became El Salvador bureau chief and global reporter;Independent, London, England, assistant foreign editor, 1990-92, chief foreign correspondent, 1992-95, Africa correspondent, 1995;Sunday Times, London, reporter, 1995-97;Wall Street Journal, Washington, DC, Africa correspondent, 1997-2003, homeland security correspondent, 2003—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Foreign Media Award, British Overseas Correspondents Association, 1996; Amnesty International Award, 1996, for human rights reporting; Pulitzer Prize (with staff members of Wall Street Journal), 2002, for breaking news; Elizabeth Neuffer Award, 2004, for reporting about United Nations peacekeeping operations; Excellence in Reporting Award, Society of Publishers in Asia, 2005, for coverage of Asian tsunami; President’s Award, New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs Association, 2006; Health Brain-trust Leadership Award in Print Journalism, Congressional Black Caucus, 2006.
(With Christopher Cooper) Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, Times Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to New York Review of Books, 1993-96.
ADAPTATIONS: Home Box Office has acquired the rights to Disaster.
SIDELIGHTS: Wall Street Journal reporters Robert Block and Christopher Cooper are the authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, an examination of the U.S. government’s response to the devastating storm that struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, killing more than 1, 000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. In the work, Block and Cooper contend that Hurricane Katrina exposed major weaknesses in the federal government’s ability to cope with natural disasters, and that many of the problems faced by the government were a direct result of policies that reduced funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and transferred much of its authority to the Department of Homeland Security. “The authors’ exhaustively researched account slogs through the intricacies of this bureaucratic nightmare,” wrote a contributor in Publishers Weekly. Block and Cooper also note that years of neglect by the Army Corps of Engineers and local officials left the levees and flood-walls of New Orleans vulnerable to storm surges, resulting in catastrophic breaches of the system when Katrina made landfall. An estimated eighty percent of the city was flooded. “Disaster is likely the best in-depth contemporary analysis we are going to get—and it does that job quite admirably,” noted Washington Post critic Stephen Flynn. “Given that future catastrophes are inevitable, this book is a call to arms to demand a far more competent federal emergency response than Washington has been willing to provide.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2006, review of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, p. 53.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of Disaster.
Washington Post, October 31, 2006, Stephen Flynn, “Ignoring One Threat for Another,” review of Disaster, p. C2.
Blogcritics Magazine Web site, http://blogcritics.org/ (September 22, 2006), Dominick Evans, review of Disaster.*