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It may not be the Nobel Prize, but Maine author Philip Harris has received “The LiFE Award: Literature for Environment” for his newly released book, Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit.  A resident of Somerville, Maine, this is Mr. Harris’ fourth published book since the summer of 2006.


The LiFE Award


LiFE Award Recipient


 Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit by Philip F. Harris, with Stephen Burgoyne.

Publisher: Write Words, Inc., and Cambridge Books
ISBN(s)1-59431-495-0 paper 1-59431-541-8 ebook

   A non-fictional account of clean-up efforts after the ecological disaster caused in New Orleans and surrounding areas by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This story puts a human face on an area that was raped by nature and then deceived by its government. Based upon the diary of a truck driver by the name of Stephen Burgoyne, we see a first hand account of the daily routine, the challenges and the bureaucratic ineptness that still plagues the residents of Louisiana. Steve tells a story in his diary entries that is far removed from the "official accounts" of government agencies and “spin doctors."


Do you worry about the future? Can you see how we are destroying all that is keeping us alive, depriving coming generations of the very basis of existence, stealing from poor countries in order to fuel our extravagant lifestyle?  Are you saddened by the loss of species, by the replacement of nature's beauty and bounty by humanity's artificial, noisy, ugly creations of concrete, steel and plastic?  If you are a writer, your attitudes and beliefs will have imbued your work.  LiFE Award: Literature For Environment.








ISBN 9781594314957

RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT is a non-fictional account of clean-up efforts after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It is not, however, your normal story filled with facts, figures and statistics.  This story puts a human face on an area that was raped by nature and deceived by its government.  Based upon the diary of a truck driver by the name of Steve, we see a first hand account of the daily routine, the challenges and the bureaucratic ineptness that have, and still plague the residents of Louisiana.  From leaving his family in northern New York to his daily runs removing mountains of trash, the remnants of lives destroyed, Steve tells a story in his diary entries that is far removed from the “official” accounts of government agencies and “spin doctors.”  Author, Philip Harris uses these diary entries to masterfully create a new mural of the despair and frustration that still exists in Louisiana.  If this account reflects an accurate portrait of our nation’s emergency preparedness system, you may want to be sure you have your own personal emergency plan ready.


Title: Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit

Reviewer: Shannon Evans, Senior Editor,

Hurricane Katrina, a disaster of Biblical proportions, is no longer in the news but the devastation of the land and the victimization of the residents of the Gulf Coast continues. Philip Harris’s Raping Louisiana – A Diary of Deceit addresses the aftermath of the storm through the eyes of Steve Burgoyne, a middle aged truck driver from upstate New York.  The bluntly honest depiction of his yearlong odyssey working in the Katrina cleanup efforts reveals the corruption, the despair, and the government waste in detailed diary entries. 

Burgoyne’s descriptions, presented with the minutia of a daily journal, illustrates the three types of people who came to the Gulf in the aftermath of the storm: crooks, victims trying to survive, and the people who came because they genuinely care. Burgoyne met plenty of all, the faceless contractors came down to make a quick fortune off the government and the unfortunate; the victims as they wandered the streets of the Dead Zone in the lower ninth ward; and the men moving debris and clearing the streets of rubble. Steve and his crew worked and lived in conditions little better than those of a third world country. They initially slept in travel trailers parked in horse pastures with no potable water or sewage facilities. But even in those conditions, the men stayed on working to make the land clear so the previous inhabitants of the Gulf Coast could return to their land.  Every truck load carried away from previously populated area impacted the men who worked there. “It was stressful…you’re picking up pieces of somebody’s life.” Throughout, it is evident that Burgoyne’s family was his support network while he toiled in the land of the hopeless.

On the Gulf, with no affordable places to live, there is no working class to run the shops and businesses in the service industries. FEMA has made a feeble attempt to provide housing for those living in shelters surrounded by hopelessness. Those that stayed and now make their homes there are the disabled, the elderly, and the unskilled labor. They now sit in their FEMA provided formaldehyde-laced cages destitute and deeply depressed. The rebuilding of the city has completely ignored this disenfranchised population, government supplemented affordable housing is not a priority in the re-building boom. New Orleans is currently the murder capital of the world. Depression, suicide, and anxiety are rampant. The devastation of the storm still takes victims in its path through drugs and alcohol abuse. The imported workers and those refugees who remained self-medicate as they live side by side in a ravaged land.

Ignored, forgotten, and abandoned the Gulf Coast is still a hotbed of contention and corruption. We can provide millions of dollars to tsunami stricken countries, we can fund a war to fight terrorism, and we can forgive billions of dollars of foreign debt but we have written off our own citizens. Raping Louisiana should be a wakeup call to those who have forgotten Katrina and her victims. Is anybody listening?


Title: Raping Louisiana: A Diary of Deceit




A gut wrenching, hard hitting, masterfully put together commentary on the failings of government to meet the basic needs of its citizens. Mr. Harris has put together an interview with a truck driver that spent a year and a half in Louisiana in an attempt to help with the Hurricane Katrina clean-up effort.  What Mr. Harris discovered was a state raped by nature and a people deceived by their government.'


When asked if I would like to review this book, I was hesitant. After all, this book, while a diary of a truck driver working and helping to clean up after a was the hurricanes name that has plagued me. Katrina. Hurricane Katrina. My name. Katrina. As I read the authors preface to the diary, the articles after and the radio interview manuscript, the tears flowed and my anger grew just as it had as I watched on television the horror the victims of Hurricane Katrina were going through. If you were angered about the governments reaction or there lack of to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this accounting of a truck driver’s experience of a year and a half of working to help clean up after the hurricane will give you the inside view that we, the public were not really made aware of, or perhaps, a view that we never thought of. Steve left his wife and children for a year and a half, seeing them only a few times on the weekends when he could, missing holidays, birthdays, etc. During this time, yes while earning a living when the pay was there, he kept a diary of the harassment that he and the group of truckers that he worked with received from the DOT. A continual changing of rules, laws, etc. It was as though the DOT was too concerned about paper trail instead of the cleanup. FEMA also reared its ugly head when Steve was kind enough to assist a grandmother who was left with her small grandchildren to raise. She had been walking back and forth to town to get water for bathing, drinking and cooking because her water had not been hooked up yet. Steve gave her a ride and upon reaching her house, saw that her water hookup was a simple task that he could do so he connected it and had an attack launched on him by a FEMA worker who began threatening him with turning him in, making him lose his license, his job, his income, etc. All because he took 10 minutes out of his day to assist a victim of the hurricane, a victim that repaid his act of kindness by baking him cookies. When Steve countered back that in the event this FEMA worker did cause him to lose everything that he would in fact, contact every news reporter he could find about what had taken place. This of course, caused the FEMA worker to back down as FEMA already had all the bad publicity and they didn't need any more. Continuously, despite poor pay, no pay, lack of housing, food, multiple truck repairs and at times no work, Steve continued to help the victims. As I was reading the interview done by Steve and his wife Kathy on Internet Voices Radio, All Things That Matter with Philip Harris, something occurred to me that shamed me. It was pointed out that it has been nearly 3 and a half years and Louisiana is still in shambles. Folks have been forced out and FEMA trailers, a very large majority of them, still remain empty. Why? Ask the government. Why has nearly 4 years gone by and these wards, this city, the impacted not been rebuilt and repaired? Our own people, Americans; trying to live life as best as they can and yet the very government that has promised a 'free' America has allowed them to go without for fear of lack of repayment. Yet, the government can spend billions upon billions to go over and destroy third world countries and then spend even more to rebuild them so the people don't go without? How American is that? Home of the free, unless you live in Louisiana. Let the government come knocking on my door because they don't like what I have written. I'll put the coffee on and offer them a seat because I have a few questions for them myself. We as Americans need to stand up, take notice, really see what is going on and realize how very little control we have. This book, Steve's diary, his accounts of what he witnessed brings us to the very core of the wards in Louisiana. For me, this was an eye opening experience as to how vulnerable the American people are, and how easily we can fall victim to the very people we depend on, all by a flick of Mother Nature.


Katrina Stiles

Founder of WritingWithStiles





This is an extremely well written, thought providing account of Hurricane

Katrina. I live in Homestead, FL, which suffered even more so as the result of Andrew, but not necessarily from our Government. The separate political representatives that butted heads over power and the lack of apparent caring on the part of FEMA and others is truly soul-shattering. Congratulation to the author on bringing this continuing plight to the attention of the public and, hopefully, to the U.S. Government.






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