Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music, embarks on a daring undertaking in a detailed and complete history of the Big Easy. Sublette spent the 2004-2005 year in New Orleans, leaving just three months before Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, changing the city forever; making this book all the more meaningful and emotional.
With extensive research, Sublette starts at the very beginning, explaining the topography and geology of the Mississippi River and the substantial yet flooded Mississippi Delta, and how there was simply nothing that could really be built there before the advent of water pumps and the possible draining of the area. In a time when the land that would one day be Louisiana was being fought over and used by the Spanish, French, and British, while every piece of natural resource in this part of the world was being used for the benefit of the Western World, coupled with the unceasing influx of slaves; a group of settlers began a town that would one day become the great city of New Orleans. The town was somewhat doomed from the beginning, with a influx of forced citizens from France consisting of prostitutes and convicts.
From its genesis, New Orleans was composed of an entire world of nationalities, cultures, faiths, and languages. Like the spine of a book, Sublette uses music as the backbone of The World That Made New Orleans, discussing the influences and developments of these different people, many of them slaves. It is a city that, after the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina, will never be the same – like New York missing the World Trade Center skyline. Thankfully, Sublette does an incredible job of revealing the many chapters in the history of New Orleans.
If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.
Originally written on March 16th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.