The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square
Lawrence Hill, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Alex Telander
ed Sublette, author of
Cuba and Its Music
, embarks on a daring undertaking in a detailed and complete history of the Big Easy. Sublette spent the 2004-2005 year in New Orleans, leaving just three months before Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, changing the city forever; making this book all the more meaningful and emotional.
ith extensive research, Sublette starts at the very beginning, explaining the topography and geology of the Mississippi River and the substantial yet flooded Mississippi Delta, and how there was simply nothing that could really be built there before the advent of water pumps created the potential for draining of the area. In a time when the land that would one day be Louisiana was being fought over and used by the Spanish, French, and British, while every piece of natural resource in this part of the world was being used for the benefit of the Western World, coupled with the unceasing influx of slaves, a group of settlers began a town that would one day become the great city of New Orleans. Inhabitants included an influx of forced citizens from France consisting of prostitutes and convicts.
rom its genesis, New Orleans was composed of an entire world of nationalities, cultures, faiths, and languages. Like the spine of the book, Sublette uses music as the backbone of
The World That Made New Orleans
, discussing the influences and developments of these different people, many of them slaves. It is a city that, after the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina, will never be the same – like New York missing the World Trade Center skyline. Thankfully, Sublette does an incredible job of revealing the many chapters in the history of New Orleans.
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