Top positive review
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Fascinating history on New Orleans
on December 21, 2009
"Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under a lava flood of taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become only a study for archaeologists. Its condition is so bad that when I write about it, as I intend to do soon, nobody will believe I am telling the truth. But it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes, than to own the whole state of Ohio."-Lafcadio Hearn, 1879.
Readers of Herbert Asbury's book will understand what prompted the sentiment of the comments by Hearn about New Orleans. Asbury makes the story of New Orleans a very involving one. I loved the descriptions of New Orleans in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Asbury's book many historical characters walk through such as Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson. You will read about the administration of Ben Butler during the Civil War and also the practice of dueling. Asbury is also not afraid to explore the seamy underside of this incredible city. A reader will not believe how colorful of a place New Orleans was. All of it is here: Voodoo, the slaves, filibustering soldiers, and Storyville. There are incredible stories from the 1850s of opposing political forces squaring off as heavily armed forces. You will read about the incredible hardships that the city suffered when hit by Yellow fever various times and how the death toll from that dwarfed even the awful death toll of Hurricane Katrina. A reader will understand that this city has seen hardship before and still will continue on. That Hurricanes, the British, Crime, Corrupt politicians or Yellow Fever will never stop it.
I recommend this book highly and think that it is definitely in the league of the author's 'The Gangs of New York'.