Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Gaul (Billion-Dollar Ball) writes about the increasing cost of maintaining and rebuilding U.S. coastal cities after events such as hurricanes, tropical storms, or even heavier-than-normal rainstorms. Touching on places in Florida, Louisiana, and the Carolinas but using New Jersey as the paradigm, the author traces the rise of city development in some of the riskiest areas: barrier islands and other ocean-front arenas. Using an array of sources from governmental studies to newspaper accounts to expert interviews, Gaul follows how developers, local politicians, homeowners, and the federal government have created an unending and unsustainable cycle of rebuilding. With sea levels expected to rise even more over the coming decades, stronger storms an ever-increasing reality, and taxpayers footing more and more of the rebuilding costs, Gaul’s work provides a sobering historical and present-day account on a seemingly never-ending cycle.
VERDICT Thoughtfully written, minutely researched, and eminently readable, this sobering analysis seeks to make people start asking questions about the viability of building on the coasts in an era of climate change.