New Book: Michael Deibert’s “When the Sky Fell”


In When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico (Apollo 2019) Puerto Rico-based journalist Michael Deibert, documented the aftermath of Hurricane María, underlining how much of the devastation and death suffered thousands on the island on September 20, 2017 could have been greatly mitigated.

Description: 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 Delbert 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.

Michael Deibert is the Caribbean Correspondent for Bloomberg, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is author of When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico (Apollo Publishers, 2019), Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History (Zed Books, 2017), In the Shadow of Saint Death: The Gulf Cartel and the Price of America’s Drug War in Mexico (Lyons Press, 2014), The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair (Zed Books, 2013), published in cooperation with the Royal African Society, the International African Institute and the World Peace Foundation, and Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press, 2005).

Deibert’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Miami Herald, Le Monde diplomatique, Folha de São Paulo, World Policy Journal, and Foreign Policy, among other venues. He has been a featured commentator on international affairs on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, France 24, National Public Radio, WNYC New York Public Radio, and KPFK Pacifica Radio. In 2012, he was awarded a grant from the International Peace Research Association, and in 2008 he was selected as 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.

See his website at and follow via Twitter @michaelcdeibert.

For purchasing information, see

Also see a review in Spanish at (subscription necessary).

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