Customer Reviews: Strange True Stories of Louisiana
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Seven unusual, true stories set in Louisiana comprise the reissue of George Washington Cable's STRANGE TRUE STORIES OF LOUISIANA. First published in 1888, these stories are a gold mine of cultural lore and historical facts. As interesting as the stories themselves are the accounts of how Cable acquired them.
"The Young Aunt with White Hair" is set in Spanish occupied Louisiana in 1782 and describes the horrors experienced by a young woman on the long journey to New Orleans from Germany: robbed by sailors on the ship; an Indian attack near the mouth of the Mississippi River, during which her husband and baby are brutally murdered; being held captive by Indians and told she was to be the chief's dinner. Her ordeal was so great that her hair turned snow white in a matter of hours, and she never recovered from the experience.
Humor and suspense make "The Two Sisters" just plain fun to read. Two teenage girls- one a tomboy and one a demure, sweet lady- undertake a dangerous trek across the Atchafalaya swamp to North Louisiana in 1795. It's not only a good story, but the details of clothing, places and people are priceless. "Plaquemine was composed of a church, two stores, as many drinking-shops, and about fifty cabins, one of which was the courthouse. Here lived a multitude of Catalans, Acadians, Negros and Indians. ..It was at Plaquemine that we bade adieu to the old Mississippi.."
The story if "Alix de Morainville" reads like a fairy tale: the birth-deformed baby farmed out to a peasant family; the arranged marriage that turns out to be a love match; the convent stay; the marriage of dear friend Madelaine to Count Louis de la Houssaye and the couple's departure for the Louisiana colony; presentation to Queen Marie Antoinette; Aleix's grand wedding at Notre Dame Cathedral; the onset of the French Revolution; widowhood; rescue; and flight first to England and then to Louisiana.
The other stories are "Salome Muller, The White Slave," "The Haunted House in Royal Street," "Attalie Brouillard," and "War Diary of a Union Woman in the South."
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VINE VOICEon February 23, 2003
As we traveled along Interstate 10 between New Orleans and "Red Baton," I mused about the girders which held the highway up out of the bayous. What must travel or life in general have been like in that part of Louisianna a century or so ago.
George Washington Cable first collected these seven stories about Louisianna and published them in 1888. He calls them true stories. They are stories from times before his own from 1782 to after the Civil War. At the same time these stories are strange to Cable because life had changed so much in Louisianna between the time that the stories occurred and his own time.
The stories start with the story of Louise who came to Louisianna and almost became the dinner of a local chief. This tragic tale is quickly followed by the "bright and happy" story of Francoise and Suzanne who travel through the "wilds" of Atchafalaya. Alix's story is next. She was once introduced to Marie Antoinette. Then the French Revolution came and Alix lost her first husband. She will be a character that I long admire but I ask you to read the story to see why. Salome Muller was a German who lost most of her family enroute to Louisianna. (Some 1200 of the 1800 who attempted to make that trip never arrived.) Salome became a slave. Yet some 20 years or so later her family took her case to the State Supreme Court to free her. The
"haunted house" is the house of Madame Lalaurie who chose to save her possessions rather than her slaves when a fire burned her house. The story of Attalie Brouillard reminds me of the con men of the movie "The Sting" with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The last story is a diary of a Union woman who lived in the South during the Civil War. To these I would like to add the story of George W Cable who begins his book by telling his readers how he got these other seven stories.
These are true stories from people who lived in Creole Louisianna, a time strange to us now.
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on May 27, 2010
As a fourth-generation Louisianian, I consider many of its true stories to be strange. It's a strange state, but one learns to love, or at least tolerate, some of its quirks. I found myself wishing that George W. Cable had written a much larger book because these stories are fascinating. The stories from the diaries of women who lived in early and Civil War Louisiana were the most intriguing. (In my opinion, Southern women's diaries have given history a much more feasible, human touch.) I now understand the Siege of Vicksburg because it was presented to us from the viewpoint of a civilian woman who lived through it. Cable is a trustworthy source of Louisiana-ana.
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on October 21, 2012
The stories were interesting. I particularly enjoyed the story of the two young sisters in the late 1700's on the rivers and through the bayous on a flat boat with their father. I enjoyed the stories of exiles to Louisiana from the France during the revolution. I also enjoyed the story about the German woman who became a bond servant and then a slave. The trial to determine her race was an interesting insight to the levels of class and color distinction in Louisiana. The story of the woman and her husband during the civil war who were unionists and what they went through was also interesting. I found myself wondering why they stayed. I read it from beginning to end but I also like that it has a navigable table of contents.
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on September 27, 2015
It was readable, but didn't make a lot of sense as to why the stories were strange. There is prologue narration of the author to the stories as to how he came about the stories and is written in an older style English. The stories themselves are in second person or diary form.
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on July 31, 2013
I am a history buff and Into genealogy. I love to read about old Louisiana and what the people had to endure! Well let me tell you this was a book about a lot of folks and places that you will be telling your friends about. I hope you find the time to buy this book as I promise you it will be worth every penny!
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on September 22, 2013
My wife and I both read the book. I started it, thinking it was a man's book, adventure, etc., then found it had lots of interest to women. My wife is a woman. We enjoyed it so much we made a special trip to Louisiana, St. Martinville, New Orleans and other parts. We were fascinated with town names like Dry Prong and Bunkie. We also took the opportunity to drive over to Mississippi to visit the beach (where you can park free right next to the sand, not paying $30 or so like in California) and the University in Oxford. Now that is one inspiring book.
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on May 13, 2015
Before I start my review, I would like to reassure people that Mr. Cable was opposed to slavery, as I found out when I did a little research. He fought on the Southern side in the Civil War, but later became an advocate for social equality and against Jim Crow, lynchings, et al. He became so unpopular in his native Louisiana that he was forced to move to the North in 1885.
This book, written in 1890, is full of interesting true stories, just as the title promises. (the Introduction tells us how they were acquired.) Many of them are set during slavery days. What impressed me the most, and shocked me, is how much slavery was just taken for granted. It was part of that world just as much as automobiles are part of ours. They just didn't think about it; it was part of the background.
Even though most of the stories aren't about slaves, this would be an excellent book for a teacher to use to teach about slavery - but beware. The details I learned about in the story about one of a pair of twin girl immigrants who was accidentally sold into slavery shocked me to the core, and depressed me.
Also interesting are the details about the lives of immigrant pioneers (for instance, in 1795), how they traveled, how they lived, et cetera. It's a great book for learning the details about life in Louisiana when it was still being settled. It was a far, far, far cry from our modern lives!
Oh, and the stories are pretty good, too!
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on December 28, 2011
Some may be disappointed but I wasn't. It's a nice read for people wanting to get a feel for New Orleans. Easy to pick up - read- put down- pick up again. Entertaining stories but don't know if I agree they are true.
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VINE VOICEon October 15, 2013
This is one of strange but true books popular in the 19th and 20th centuries before we had strange but true television. This is very interesting but true probably is a word stretched thin. Iread the book because it contained the story of Madame Lalaurie which is being included on American Horror Story this season.
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