A searing investigation of the factors that devastated Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, from acclaimed investigative reporter Michael Deibert. When Hurricane Maria roared across Puerto Rico in September 2017, it devastated the island. It was an unprecedented natural disaster, a Category 5 major hurricane, and ultimately responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 people. It also ripped away the facade that had dominated discussions of the island's relationship with the United States for over a century.

This is the first book to comprehensively expose what happened during Hurricane Maria, why Puerto Rico was so poorly prepared, and why a US territory, an island of American citizens, was largely ignored by the federal government in the wake of a catastrophic natural disaster.

Using a blend of history and on-the-ground reportage, Michael Deibert pulls back the veil of the island known for its powdery beaches, rainforests, and apricot-and-lavender sunsets to reveal the trajectory for the decisions that set it on the path to the disaster that came during and in the wake of the storm, when its entire power grid and much of its water supply was knocked out. In doing so, he also reveals the stories of everyday heroism, compassion, and unexpected joy that have defined the island before and after Maria.

A widely recognized authority on the Caribbean, Michael Deibert is an author and journalist whose articles have been published in The Guardian, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Le Monde Diplomatique, Folha de S.Paulo, and World Policy Journal, among other outlets. He has been a regularly featured commentator on international affairs for the BBC, NPR, France 24, and KPFK Pacifica Radio. He was awarded a grant from the International Peace Research Association and was a finalist for the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism, sponsored by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, both in recognition of his work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deibert is the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti; The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair; In the Shadow of Saint Death: The Gulf Cartel and the Price of America's Drug War in Mexico; and Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History. He currently serves as Bloomberg's Caribbean correspondent, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Huáscar Robles writes and makes art about technology and culture. He has published with The New York TimesChicago Tribune's HoyMetro San Juan and other publications in United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil. He was a correspondent in Haití and  published Puertos príncipes: temblemos todos, a journal and photo book on Haiti after the earthquake. He is currently an Op-Ed contributor to Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Día.  The Country Under My Skin, Los silencios de Santurce, Portraits of Marassa, are some of his photo and multimedia performances in the U.S. and Puerto Rico as well as the documentary The Invisible Coast, on Haitian merchants' struggle on Puerto Rico's Loíza town. He has participated with The Dart Center's Ochberg Fellowship (2009), Center for Justice and Journalism's Urban Fellowship (2009), AS220's Artist in Residence, and Brunetto's School cultural exchange in Brazil (2006). His collection Country Under My Skin as acquired by Rhode Island's Historical Society's Permanent Gallery.  Robles has an M.F.A. from New York University. 

Jesús Papoleto Meléndez (“Papo”) is a New York-born Puerto Rican award-winning poet most associated with the Nuyorican movement. Meléndez recently published his long-awaited poetry collection, Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, A Bilingual Edition (2Leaf Press, 2012). This 300-page collection, comprised of his three previously published books, consist of 59 poems about growing up Puerto Rican in New York City’s El Barrio, during the 1960s and 1970s that remain extremely relevant to this day. Meléndez is a recipient of the Union Settlement Association “Innovation Award” (2011); The 1st Annual “El Reverendo Pedro Pietri Hand Award” in Poetry (2006); El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico, El Puerto Rican Embassy; The Universes Poetic Ensemble Company Award in Appreciation of Inspiration & Commitment to the Development of the Company (2006); The Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award (2004); a 2001 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry; an Artist for Community Enrichment Award (ACE) from the Bronx Council on the Arts (1995); and a Combo (Combined Arts of San Diego) NEA Fellowship in Literature (1988).


Event date: 

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948062367
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Apollo Publishers - September 17th, 2019