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The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld Paperback – February 27, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
In fifteen chapters, author Herbert Asbury describes the disruptive roles played by keelboat ruffians, revolutionists, gamblers, duelists, prostitutes, corrupt cops and politicians, pirates, filibusters (soldiers of fortune), vigilantes, pickpockets, muggers, thugs, the Mafia, and voodoo practitioners in the lives of the otherwise law-abiding citizenry. Anyone reading Asbury's narrative might be led to believe that good folks were a miniscule minority.
THE FRENCH QUARTER suffers from being published almost seventy years ago. Aside from a number of old sketch reproductions, and several badly reproduced B&W photographs of bordello interiors and exteriors during the Storyville era, THE FRENCH QUARTER is sadly lacking in illustration. There's not even a map of the city from which to get one's bearings.
This work is wonderfully informative as far as it goes, perhaps occasionally more so than is needed to make the point that the city, especially in the mid-1800s, could be a noxious place. The narrative is sober and straightforward, only occasionally displaying dry humor. A couple examples from the text will suffice to give one a sense of the book's tone and the city's iniquity.
Regarding barrel-houses,the lowest form of drinking place: "The owner of one such establishment not only doped all of his liquor, but maintained his own staff of sneak thieves ... (who) worked on a percentage basis and took turns robbing the sodden wretches who were dragged from the barrel-house."
Regarding the streetwalkers of the Dauphine and Burgundy Street vice area after the Civil War:
" ...Read more ›
That said, his book seems well researched, factual and for a student of history, particularly the darker side of early New Orleans, well worth the considerable investment of time to learn of and understand it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I made the mistake of assuming this book was bout the mob- The Mafia - in New Orleans. Its not. It was written in 1936, and covers mostly the 1800's. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Louis
My son needed it for his class. It was just what he needed.Published 5 months ago by Angella McZeal
A classic. Take it with a grain of salt, but it's a great story about the French Quarter and New Orleans.Published 8 months ago by Kevin
It has many racist terms and views on events which do not seem to be substantiated by any citations or solid facts.Published 14 months ago by Wiselpsu