Book Excerpt

The Inevitable City

The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America

Scott Cowen with Betsy Seifter; foreword by Walter Isaacson

St. Martin's Press


On its surface this is a book about leadership by a man who led his community through a crisis. But what it really is is the story of a love affair, between a man and the city he did so much to save. One day historians will realize how incredible it was that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans found its greatest leader in a university president. They will turn here to see how and why he did what he did.

—Michael Lewis

Our most famous fictional resident, Blanche DuBois observed that she depended on the kindness of strangers. The truth is in the time after Hurricane Katrina the fate of New Orleans was depending on the vision and competence of a guy that grew up in New Jersey. That person was Tulane President Dr. Scott Cowen. New Orleanians unanimously credit him as being the most significant individual in the resurrection and rebirth of our city. This book is a superb place to become educated on post-Katrina New Orleans.

—James Carville

"Scott Cowen takes us on his personal journey rebuilding and revitalizing his university and community after the worst natural disaster to ever hit a modern American city. His unflinching courage and deep compassion propel a narrative that is at once a leadership epic and an examination of the true meaning of service. Scott reminds us that while we mourn the losses inflicted on our beloved Gulf Coast, we must never let that be the end of the story -- we must write the next chapter."

—Lisa Jackson, VP, Apple Inc and former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency

In this beautifully written book, Cowan describes how New Orleans' leaders, in partnership with its extraordinary and diverse community of citizens, drew on the history, culture, unbreakable spirit and unquestionable strength of this unique metropolis to reimagine new models of urban renewal and reawakening. The Inevitable City serves both to inspire and instruct all of us who know that while great storms are always possible, revitalization and rebirth are more often the result when men and women of courage and determination face the storm together.

—Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, former president of Brown University