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on September 19, 2006
The research and details in this book are incredible. Dates, names, addresses - this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the life of Marie Laveau, or just New Orleans history. I'm taking the book on my next trip to the Crescent city to visit some of the places Long mentions in her book. Very well documented and extremely readable.
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on March 12, 2011
This is an interesting book that is not about Marie Laveau so much as it is about the times and the milieu of Marie Laveaux. Altogether, from 287 pages, I would hazard a guess that collectively about 5 pages are about Marie Laveau. This is a book to read if you are interested in New Orleans and New Orleans vodoo in particular, but you will surely be disappointed, as I was, if you go into this book thinking it will be about Marie Laveau.
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on August 29, 2007
Carolyn Long's latest work, like her earlier Spiritual Merchants, is an fascinating piece of historical detective work. Sifting through the legends that surround Marie Laveau--and briefly Voodoo in general--she has produced a readable, highly-accurate biography. Those who are hoping to find titillating accounts of midnight Voodoo orgies within its pages will be disappointed. Instead, what readers will discover are the facts behind a woman who has been alternately vilified and lionized by the American public. Voudou Priestess demystifies Laveau and gives future scholars as well as general readers a firm foundation upon which to base their understandings of Voudou and its ministers.
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on December 30, 2006
Carolyn Morrow Long's portrait of the elusive but everpresent Marie Laveau is an awesome feat of detective work, a painstaking investigation of all the available church, court, government, and anecdotal records. In conveying her very thorough research in a clear, orderly, and graceful style, Long has produced as comprehensive a picture of this fabled woman as we are likely to get. Her account is definitive, and is likely to remain so for years to come.

--Stanford Pritchard, Middlebury, VT
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on November 17, 2009
If you like reading about American History and you're looking for something exotic, look no further; you've come to the right place. In addition to the above, Carolyn Morrow Long's book, "A New Orleans Voudou Priestess," is extremely well written and thoroughly researched, not often the case in these days of 30 second sound bites and mindless talk shows. Author Long begins as is the case with scientific researchers with telling us how she conducted her research and what she found, both truth and rumor. Also of great value to us are the facts of the Louisiana Teritory's various governments, their ethnic makeup, and primary languages. We learn, too, of the waves of new immigrants and the ease of assimilation, including slaves and free people of color, both African-born and Creole (i.e.,Louisiana-born individuals of whatever ethnicity).

"New Orleans Voudou Priestess" is organized in content-labeled chapters and includes a bibliography, a helpful guide for further study. Chapter notes and many references to the Louisiana Writers Project (LWP) organized as one of many such projects during the great depression are also invaluable resources. Of course, the book has bountiful references to Voudou in its many forms and its proximity to other beliefs, African and Haitian as well as Roman Catholicism.

In all, Carolyn Morrow Long has produced a five star book for scholars, but just as important she has produced a five star book of clean, clear prose, of accessible readability for laymen. Hurrah! for her and good for all of us who love American history.
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on November 30, 2013
This almost reads like a research paper but everything you ever wanted to know fact or fiction is included. I thought it was interesting that the author included the history of the myths. That sentence will make sense if you read the book. It took me a while to read it. I set it down a few times and came back to it. Very good.
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on April 28, 2014
This is a well researched intriguing book on the life and times of Marie Laveau. Some reviewers have written that this book does not focus enough on Marie alone, I like that it gives details about the time period and give you more of a insight into the life and the world going on around her that influenced her to become the legendary Marie Laveau. This book is very well researched and I love that it give names and addresses so that you can see this places for yourself if you have the opportunity I am a lover of all thing New Orleans and this book satisfied my thirst for more about this great city, I also love how the author talks about past authors or statements on Marie's life and disproves them. This is the first book on Marie Laveau that I have read and I think its the only one that needs to be read. The writing was easy to understand and words that were used in french were translated into English, I really enjoyed this fact. Without knowing of the world going on around Marie Laveau you cant really get a real understanding of who she was and what made her who she became. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about Marie Leveau or more about New Orleans History.
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on March 24, 2012
As the author of Coffin Girls (Elegantly Undead: Book 1 of the Coffin Girls Witch Vampire Series), a paranormal romance based in New Orleans, I researched the place, culture and voodoo extensively. This book offered authenticated insights into the life of a voodoo legend. The author researched her subject thoroughly and presented the information in an easy-to-read, logical manner. Although it is largely biographical, I didn't experience it as a heavy read. I found the contextual information on colonial New Orleans and the racial politics riveting and interestingly very similar to South Africa's history. It made me consider the true evolution of man and what makes us humane, successful and what creates a truly diverse and unique place despite life's challenges!
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on March 21, 2015
This book is likely the most accurately researched book on Marie Laveau that has been written. I liked the book from a historically researched accurate work of non-fiction. Carolyn Morrow Long went though an enormous amount of research to write this book. She also read many other authors on Marie Laveau includes snippets of their work to give the reader a chance to see what other authors have said about Marie. Will you come away feeling that you knew Marie? Not really, but you will come away from reading this book knowing that the author researched the period and people of the times. From a purely historical perspective, this book is a fascinating read. The author writes about the times and the people and the way they lived. There are addresses researched, newspaper reports (although, they seem to be very embellished and no fault of the author) birth, baptism and death records and archived ownership records. I felt as if you could really experience the city of New Orleans from this book. The stage was set for a story and I think many people that have written about the Voudou Priestess have written stories that embellished the truth. There are no journals to tell this mysterious story. You do not feel that you know Marie but you are given the information on the way she lived and the times she lived in. If the author had more information, she would have given it to you. She does a wonderful job of putting the information together. I would have loved to understand exactly what the Voudou Priestess did and who she was personally. However, you cannot write a book about a personality if you don't have her own written story. I did appreciate eyewitness accounts of things seen and reported them to the Louisiana Writers Project. Those stories are the closest I think we will get.

I have to give the author my respect for 10 years of work on this project. She did a great job. Perhaps I will read one of the embellished works for fun but I guess I'd rather have a good read that is as close to the truth as possible.

If you are interested in sorting through the stories about Marie, this is the book to get. I would have loved to pick up a book with a beautiful story and not a textbook. However, I commend the author on writing an extremely well researched book that brings the time and story to life.
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on February 19, 2015
The trouble with writing a biography of Marie Laveau is that we don't actually know much about her. Laveau herself didn't write, and left no record of her own activities. Her closest associates didn't record anything either. So even though she lived in the recent past, Laveau is one of those historical figures who is shrouded in rumor rather than grounded in facts. She's practically mythological! Hence the title of this book, which attempts to reconstruct her life using the scant evidence that's available.

So what is this evidence? Mostly, Carolyn Morrow Long relies on official documents (e.g., birth certificates and deeds), contemporary newspaper articles that reek of yellow journalism, and eyewitness interviews that were recorded decades after Laveau's death. Morrow Long sifts through this weird grab bag of evidence at a leisurely pace, and uses it to debunk many popular theories about Laveau - for example, the theories that she was an abolitionist, and that she was succeeded as Voodoo Queen by her daughter.

By the time Morrow Long is done poking holes in the popular image of Laveau, there isn't much of a clear picture left. Even after I finished this book, I still couldn't decide if Laveau was a shrewd businesswoman who exploited her clients, a genuine philanthropist and folk healer, or something in between.

Does this mean the book is bad? Not at all. It's a serious academic text, and I respect Morrow Long's effort to bring a scientific approach to studying a sensationalized personality. Still, you should know what you're in for when you read this book. Leave your expectations of pulsing excitement behind. Accept, from the beginning, that Morrow Long won't entertain the notion that Laveau had real powers. Really, this is like a school textbook...a cool textbook, sure, but still a textbook. It exists not to promote Laveau's legend but to drag it down to earth.

Viewed in that light, it's a good book. But I'm not enough of an expert on Laveau to say whether it's a *convincing* book. The historical record on Laveau is hazy enough to invite many different interpretations, and I'm sure that other academics have conflicting theories about the Voodoo Queen. Still, this book is definitely worth reading if you want to entertain one scholar's serious perspective on a tough subject.
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