Camille, 1969
Histories of a Hurricane

Mark M. Smith

One of our most innovative historians explores the many meanings of a natural disaster


"The strengths of Camille, 1969 lie in Smith's provocative questions; in his seamless fluency in the languages of politics, economics, and history; and in his poetic gift of storytelling. His book is not simply a historical account of a single hurricane, but a story about the ethics of recovery."
American Scholar

“In the post-Katrina era, the Category Five Hurricane Camille, which devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969, is often forgotten. Mark Smith’s Camille, 1969 provides a fresh perspective on Hurricane Camille by examining not only the human dimensions of the disaster but also the racial and political contexts that shaped both the immediate impact of the storm and the long recovery that followed.”
—Charles C. Bolton, author of The Hardest Deal of All: The Battle over School Integration in Mississippi, 1870–1980

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Thirty-six years before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and southern Mississippi, the region was visited by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States: Camille.

Mark M. Smith offers three highly original histories of the storm’s impact in southern Mississippi. In the first essay Smith examines the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane—how the storm rearranged and challenged residents’ senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. The second essay explains the way key federal officials linked the question of hurricane relief and the desegregation of Mississippi’s public schools. Smith concludes by considering the political economy of short- and long-term disaster recovery, returning to issues of race and class.

Camille, 1969 offers stories of survival and experience, of the tenacity of social justice in the face of a natural disaster, and of how recovery from Camille worked for some but did not work for others. Throughout these essays are lessons about how we might learn from the past in planning for recovery from natural disasters in the future.

Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures

Page count: 90 pp.
8 b&w photos, 1 map
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $29.95

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Mark M. Smith is Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of numerous books including Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching in History; Writing the American Past: U.S. History to 1877; and Hearing History: A Reader (Georgia).