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The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race,…

The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the…

by Michael A. Ross

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This was really interesting until the mid-point. Somewhere toward the middle of the book, the author began repeating himself and I found myself losing interest. The narrative seemed to disintegrate toward the end and I wasn't sure if that was because there wasn't enough concrete information for the author to be able to tie up his project or if it was because the book ran on much longer than necessary.

I will say, however, that I learned several things about this period in history that I didn't know. I was drawn to the book in the first place because a portion of the novel I'm writing takes place in New Orleans during this era and I wanted to get a feel for some of the events of the time. I don't recall ever learning about the "black codes" in school or anything about the Creoles. For those reasons alone, I am giving this book 4 stars. I think the idea behind it was well planned, but the execution needed further research or better writing.
( )
  Melynn1104 | Jun 28, 2017 |
The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case by Michael A. Ross 4/5

The 1932 Lindbergh Kidnapping case was far from the first "sensational" kidnapping that took place in the States. Neither was the often credited 1874 abduction of Charley Ross in Philadelphia, although many historians claim it to be so.

Little Mollie Digby was kidnapped in June of 1870 from what was then the 'back of town' in New Orleans, now just the edge of the Central Business District. The crime took place in broad daylight with a street full of people milling about. It was a mixed neighborhood, blacks alongside white residents, many of whom were Irish immigrants, as was Mollie's family.

Two Afro-Creole women were arrested for the crime, and this book tells, in great detail, of both the investigation and trial of these women.

This took place only 5 years after the American Civil War, and a Radical Reconstruction government was in power over the defeated South. New Orleans was unique in many ways in their race relations. There were white Creoles and Afro-Creoles that had many familial ties and were closely tied together, making for convivial relations in more cases than not. It wasn't till 1877 when Reconstruction ended that so called White Supremacy became the "norm".

Ross details much of these relationships and tells of one of the very first detectives in the country an Afro-Creole, John Baptiste Jourdain, considered the best. His methods were ahead of their time and effective, although sometimes contravened by circumstances.

This is a fascinating look at the history of Reconstruction in this area, and puts some new light on the reality of what happened and why. ( )
  booknest | Nov 28, 2014 |
The setting in old true crime cases is a vital aspect of helping readers understand how and why things happened as they did. Not all nonfiction authors are able to convey those details. Michael Ross has no such problem. He expertly weaves bits of history and sociology in with the kidnapping case of Mollie Digby, offering a clear view of both the crime and the culture.

The picture painted here is not a pretty one in American history. In 1870, when this crime occurred, New Orleans was a city divided by politics, class, and race. Radical Reconstruction was underway. Many whites were rebelling against the blacks' newfound roles in society, such as their placement on the police force and their ability to serve on juries. All this turmoil serves as a vital backdrop to the crime.

The kidnapping itself is a bizarre case. Ross unravels it all in pieces, from start to finish, showing us how it plays out while allowing us to form our own opinions.

This is by far one of the best nonfiction books I've read - ever. ( )
  Darcia | Aug 27, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199778809, Hardcover)

In June 1870, the residents of the city of New Orleans were already on edge when two African American women kidnapped seventeen-month-old Mollie Digby from in front of her New Orleans home. It was the height of Radical Reconstruction, and the old racial order had been turned upside down: black men now voted, held office, sat on juries, and served as policemen. Nervous white residents, certain that the end of slavery and resulting "Africanization" of the city would bring chaos, pointed to the Digby abduction as proof that no white child was safe. Louisiana's twenty-eight-year old Reconstruction governor, Henry Clay Warmoth, hoping to use the investigation of the kidnapping to validate his newly integrated police force to the highly suspicious white population of New Orleans, saw to it that the city's best Afro-Creole detective, John Baptiste Jourdain, was put on the case, and offered a huge reward for the return of Mollie Digby and the capture of her kidnappers. When the Associated Press sent the story out on the wire, newspaper readers around the country began to follow the New Orleans mystery. Eventually, police and prosecutors put two strikingly beautiful Afro-Creole women on trial for the crime, and interest in the case exploded as a tense courtroom drama unfolded.

In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Michael Ross offers the first full account of this event that electrified the South at one of the most critical moments in the history of American race relations. Tracing the crime from the moment it was committed through the highly publicized investigation and sensationalized trial that followed, all the while chronicling the public outcry and escalating hysteria as news and rumors surrounding the crime spread, Ross paints a vivid picture of the Reconstruction-era South and the complexities and possibilities that faced the newly integrated society. Leading readers into smoke-filled concert saloons, Garden District drawing rooms, sweltering courthouses, and squalid prisons, Ross brings this fascinating era back to life.

A stunning work of historical recreation, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case is sure to captivate anyone interested in true crime, the Civil War and its aftermath, and the history of New Orleans and the American South.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:30 -0400)

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