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The World That Made New Orleans: From…

The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square

by Ned Sublette

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From Ned Sublette comes a lively, rollicking recounting of the three histories of New Orleans: French, Spanish, and American. Covering the earliest days of the city through the first quarter century or so of the Nineteenth Century, Sublette’s is detailed, nuanced work, focusing particularly on the connections between La Nouvelle Orleans and Havana and Saint Domingo. Drawing the musical and spiritual connections between the three locations and their roots in West Africa, Sublette describes the interplay of cultures and the central role of free people of color in the burgeoning port as well as the world-wide political events that influenced the city’s history.

Sublette’s technique is the opposite of dry history; it is told in a louche, mischievous voice that occasionally slips into the first person and draws incisive connections between historical events and those more contemporary, such as Hurricane Katrina. Sublette’s sorrow over the displacement of residents and disruption of (especially black) culture post-Katrina causes him to get a bit lost in the out-of-place coda to the book; here, the narrative loses a little force due to nostalgia. But overall, Sublette, a New Yorker but Louisiana native gives us an admirable and entertaining work about America’s most interesting city. ( )
  Bostonseanachie | Dec 14, 2016 |
All I can say is that I wish I'd had this book before my visit to New Orleans, but, that being said, I do plan to go back. It is a wonderful history of the development of New Orleans and it's history. I look forward to re-visiting sites that impressed me the first time, but that I can now look at with a more knowledgeble eye. I learned a lot from this book, not just about the history of New Orleans, but also the world events that affected it's growth and development and why it's culture is so very different from other parts of the US. This book makes it to my keepers list! If you haven't been to New Orleans and you enjoy history, this is a good place to start, but whether you read it or not....New Orleans is a wonderful place to visit! ( )
  Neverwithoutabook | Jun 9, 2011 |
History writing at its best - well researched and well-written - very digestible. A look at the cultural, political and musical history of what is, without doubt, North America's most unique and flamboyant city. I enjoyed this book so much, I went on to buy another history of New Orleans - Building the Devil's Empire. Recommended for history buffs AND for folks who just want to know more about the Big Easy. ( )
  Vidalia | Sep 14, 2008 |
I was ultimately disappointed with The World That Made New Orleans. Sublette started well, with an interesting discussion of the early days of the Louisiana Territory and the growth of New Orleans, especially in the interaction between the early French settlers and the Spanish who were nominally occupying the area. But as the book went on, it became pretty clear that there were only a few things Sublette wanted to say - New Orleans came from the interplay between the French and Spanish approaches to colonization and slave trade, the city culture was dominated by the majority black population and their surviving African culture, and periodic infusions of refugees from Cuba and Saint Domingue kept the city's culture alive and steered it to what we nominally think of as New Orleans today. Ok, good stuff, but he didn't need nearly 400 pages to say it and the text got very repetitive in the last half of the book. As compensation for the repetitiveness, the tone got (for lack of a better term) snarkier as he went along until it became a polemic against the Anglo-American culture in the city and further abroad. In the end, the book felt like a graduate thesis with not much meat that tries to be controversial for the sake of being controversial. ( )
2 vote drneutron | Jul 9, 2008 |
A study of the various elements that went into the making of New Orleans -- a city as much Latin American and Caribbean as American. ( )
  Fledgist | Nov 13, 2007 |
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"The World That Made New Orleans offers a new perspective on this insufficiently understood city by telling the remarkable story of New Orleans's first century - a tale of imperial war, religious conflict, the search for treasure, the spread of slavery, the Cuban connection, the cruel aristocracy of sugar, and the very different revolutions that created the United States and Haiti. It demonstrates that New Orleans already had its own distinct personality at the time of Louisiana's statehood in 1812."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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