Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $17.00
  • Save: $5.20 (31%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Nine Lives: Mystery, Magi... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by TR INC
Condition: Used: Very Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans Paperback – February 16, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 180 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$7.68 $0.51

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
$11.80 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans
  • +
  • The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square
  • +
  • The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans
Total price: $41.03
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
The hidden history of a haunted and beloved city told through the intersecting lives of nine remarkable characters.

After Hurricane Katrina, Dan Baum moved to New Orleans to write about the city’s response to the disaster for The New Yorker. He quickly realized that Katrina was not the most interesting thing about New Orleans, not by a long shot. The most interesting question, which struck him as he watched residents struggling to return, was this: Why are New Orleanians—along with people from all over the world who continue to flock there—so devoted to a place that was, even before the storm, the most corrupt, impoverished, and violent corner of America?

Here’s the answer. Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of this dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city through the lives of nine characters over forty years and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed the city in the 1960’s, and Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. These nine lives are windows into every strata of one of the most complex and fascinating cities in the world. From outsider artists and Mardi Gras Kings to jazz-playing coroners and transsexual barkeeps, these lives are possible only in New Orleans, but the city that nurtures them is also, from the beginning, a city haunted by the possibility of disaster. All their stories converge in the storm, where some characters rise to acts of heroism and others sink to the bottom. But it is New Orleans herself—perpetually whistling past the grave yard—that is the story’s real heroine.

Nine Lives is narrated from the points of view of some of New Orleans’s most charismatic characters, but underpinning the voices of the city is an extraordinary feat of reporting that allows Baum to bring this kaleidoscopic portrait to life with brilliant color and crystalline detail. Readers will find themselves wrapped up in each of these individual dramas and delightfully immersed in the life of one of this country’s last unique places, even as its ultimate devastation looms ever closer. By resurrecting this beautiful and tragic place and portraying the extraordinary lives that could have taken root only there, Nine Lives shows us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.

Amazon Exclusive: Dan Baum on Nine Lives

Hurricane Katrina was the kind of event a reporter waits his entire life to cover. It was especially satisfying doing so for The New Yorker. While newspaper and television reporters chased about feverishly in their attempt to feed the insatiable daily news monster, I enjoyed the time to go deep and peel back the tragedy in all its complexity. I wrote half a dozen short “Talk of the Town” pieces and two long articles over the following year.

Even working for The New Yorker, though, covering Katrina and its aftermath became frustrating. The longer I stayed in New Orleans, the more I understood that huge as Katrina was, it is hardly the most interesting thing about New Orleans. New Orleans is the most unusual place I’ve ever been—complicated, sensual, self-contradictory, hilarious, infuriating—and it was the place itself, not the tragedy that befell it, that I wanted to write about.

So when my wife and I thought about writing a book, it wasn’t a “Katrina book” we had in mind. We finally settled on interweaving the life stories of nine New Orleanians—rich and poor and in between, black and white and in between, male and female and in between. Nine Lives begins in 1965, right after the last time a big part of the city flooded during a hurricane. By this we want to say: New Orleans was there a long time before Hurricane Katrina and it will be there a long time after. Katrina doesn’t show up in Nine Lives until past page 200.

We had two guiding principles: No bad guys, and all happy endings. All nine of these people are, in their own way, heroes. And while we could have ended any of their stories on a down note, we instead end all at a moment of ascendance. There are many ways of looking at New Orleans, but this is how we chose to do so in Nine Lives.

We were careful not to make Nine Lives the kind of "issue" book one must read to understand current events. We want people to read it for the same reason they read The Kite Runner or The Bridges of Madison County—out of love of the characters and a warm, delicious eagerness to see their lives unfold. New Orleans is above all, a fun place, and we tried to make Nine Lives as much fun to read. —Dan Baum

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Reporter Baum (Citizen Coors) arrived in New Orleans two days after the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina. He admits his initial accounts of the disaster were flawed, but with this captivating collection of nine linked profiles, Baum has rectified what he claims was his narrow interpretation of events. While covering Katrina and its aftermath for the New Yorker, I noticed that most of the coverage, my own included, was so focused on the disaster that it missed the essentially weird nature of the place where it happened. Baum begins the narrative with the 1965 battering of the Ninth Ward by Hurricane Betsy and concludes in 2007. He captures the essence of the city through the lives of nine characters over 40 years, bracketed by two epic hurricanes, people such as Billy Grace, the king of Carnival and member of New Orleans elite; Tim Bruneau, the city cop haunted by images of Katrinas destruction; and transsexual JoAnn Guidos, who finds a home and, following Katrina, a sense of purpose. Baum, an empathetic storyteller, has nearly perfectly distilled the events, providing readers with a sensuous portrait of a place that can be better understood as the best organized city in the Caribbean rather than the worst organized city in the United States. Baums chronicle leaves readers with a bittersweet understanding of what Americans lost during Hurricane Katrina. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Interested in the Audiobook Edition?
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523202
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Lynette Mejia on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
New Orleans is a city full of contradictions, a place out of context with the rest of America. It defies understanding, explanation, and most especially, classification. It's a quality the residents hold onto, this testament of uniqueness, even as the city has teetered time and again on the brink of destruction.

I've lived near New Orleans for most of my life. I'm a frequent visitor there, and, like everyone else who comes, I've fallen in love with its decadent grandness, its welcoming, leisurely way of life. All manner of humanity calls New Orleans home, and the city embraces them all. It's a unique place, out of step with the rest of America, and that is exactly why it is so important to save. This has never been truer than now, as the great lady teeters on her knees, still struggling, three years later, to rise from the devastation of Katrina.

Dan Baum, on assignment from The New Yorker after the storm, quickly learned all of these things. Along with his wife Margaret, he eventually moved to New Orleans in order to write a book, one which, using the timeframe between Betsy in 1965 and Katrina in 2005, captures perfectly what it means to love this city.

Baum chose nine people he got to know after the storm, conducting hundreds of hours of interviews, writing the story of the city through their eyes. They are from vastly different ends of the socio-political spectrum, ranging from the widow of a revered Mardi Gras Indian chief to the long-time coroner of Orleans parish, from a transsexual bar owner to a former king of Rex and pillar of the Uptown community. Their stories are unique, yet a common thread runs through them all - the deep, abiding love of this place, of the home New Orleans offers to each.
Read more ›
2 Comments 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A doctor turned coroner, a band and music teacher, a transit system worker, an ambitious woman struggling to achieve a college education, a transexual bar owner and former college football player, a wealthy accountant... These are among the characters whose very disparate lives are woven together in this book that is about all of them and none of them; rather, it is about the city that they share, New Orleans.

"New Orleanians really want nothing more than for everything to stay the same," Dan Baum writes in his introduction to this compelling oral history of the city's misadventures over the last forty-plus years. As well all know, far from staying the same, everything in New Orleans underwent a seismic change in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina blew in from the Gulf of Mexico and along with the floods that followed, transformed the city's geography in every conceivable way. Its citizens were scattered all over the country, the lower Ninth Ward -- home to some of those whom Baum profiles in his book -- was destroyed.

While Katrina's devastation is the raison d'etre for Baum's book, the events of those horrible days in August and September, 2005 are simply the climax of the lives of the New Orleanians he tells the story through. Or perhaps I should say that his nine characters choose him to tell their tales of the lives they lived in the city that they loved and sometimes hated but couldn't imagine living without. It's the story of a city and of the many ways of life that coexisted within it, of the unique 'live for the day' ethos that prevailed there and its strong sense of community.
Read more ›
1 Comment 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is the most powerful and moving book that I have read in a good long while -- so much so that certain passages brought tears to my eyes. I looked forward to reading it every evening and regretted that it had to end. It is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, and I already know that it is a book I will look at time and time again. This is journalism of the highest order, and it reminds us that the true drama is found not in Hollywood scripts, but rather in the lives of real people. I have recommended this book to all my friends and am pleased to be able to do so here. Thanks, Mr. Baum, for this wonderful piece of work.
Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book, and I found it an easy and quick read. But it is also very lean, even meager. One of the reviewers noted that you don't hear Baum's voice again after the introduction; this is true. In place of an author's voice you get a very stripped narrative of 8 lives, about thirty pages per person spread out over forty years. Given those restraints, Baum does an admirable job, but there's not all that much magic. You get the sense that the real spirit of New Orleans had to be shunted aside to get the tale told. There's one glorious exception, which is the "life" of Anthony Wells, told by himself (he is the only one who was allowed to speak for himself this way). He is all zest and glory, and it makes you realize how much the experience of New Orleans can only be rendered in the first person. The Wells portions, all in italics, are worth reading straight through all on their own. He is like a New Orleanian Neal Cassady.
One way of putting this is that Baum put together in schematic form a kind of Canterbury Tales for New Orleans, but you really can't manage that kind of thing without more first-person narrative. It's the flavor of perspective that really drives the whole.
One more thing. Since Baum was writing nonfiction about living people he would presumably like to remain friends with, there is little that is incisive here. At times you wish you could tell him you're shutting the tape recorder off to get his real opinion on his subjects. I suppose this is why authors turn to fiction - they can put down their real thoughts about people, as long as they change the names. Baum does not appear to be operating with the same freedom.
The overall result is good narrative with surprisingly little color.
Read more ›
2 Comments 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
This item: Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: wyoming history