Suggested Reading List
A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau
Author: Carolyn Morrow Long
Description: Legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense, Marie Leveau also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims and ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church.
In separating verifiable fact from semi-truths and complete fabrication, Carolyn Morrow Long explores the unique social, political, and legal setting in which the lives of Laveau’s African and European ancestors became intertwined in nineteenth-century New Orleans.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Author: Tennessee Williams
Description: Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a culture clash between two characters, Blanche DuBois, a relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class. American playwright Tennessee Williams received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948.
Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans
Author: Professor Lawrence N. Powell
Description: This is the story of a city that shouldn't exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America's most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes. But through the intense imperial rivalries of Spain, France, and England, and the ambitious, entrepreneurial merchants and settlers from four continents who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, this unpromising site became a crossroads for the whole Atlantic world.
Lawrence N. Powell, a decades-long resident and observer of New Orleans, gives us the full sweep of the city's history from its founding through Louisiana statehood in 1812. We see the Crescent City evolve from a French village, to an African market town, to a Spanish fortress, and finally to an Anglo-American center of trade and commerce. We hear and feel the mix of peoples, religions, and languages from four continents that make the place electric-and always on the verge of unraveling. The Accidental City is the story of land-jobbing schemes, stock market crashes, and nonstop squabbles over status, power, and position, with enough rogues, smugglers, and self-fashioners to fill a picaresque novel.
Powell's tale underscores the fluidity and contingency of the past, revealing a place where people made their own history. This is a city, and a history, marked by challenges and perpetual shifts in shape and direction, like the sinuous river on which it is perched.
All the Kings Men
Author: Robert Penn Warren
Description: All the King's Men traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character loosely based on Governor Huey ""Kingfish"" Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power.
Confederacy of Dunces
Author: John Kennedy Toole
Description: A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by American novelist John Kennedy Toole, published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980, eleven years after the author's suicide. The book, published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly became a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is now considered a canonical work of modern Southern literature, in the USA. The title derives from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." The story is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful 30-year-old man still living with his mother in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, due to an incident early in the book, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.
Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s (Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History)
Author: John Shelton Reed
Description: In the years following World War I, the New Orleans French Quarter attracted artists and writers with its low rents, faded charm, and colorful street life. By the 1920s Jackson Square had become the center of a vibrant if short-lived bohemia. A young William Faulkner and his roommate William Spratling, an artist who taught at Tulane University, resided among the ''artful and crafty ones of the French Quarter.'' In Dixie Bohemia John Shelton Reed introduces Faulkner's circle of friends--ranging from the distinguished Sherwood Anderson to a gender-bending Mardi Gras costume designer--and brings to life the people and places of New Orleans in the Jazz Age.
A charming and insightful glimpse into an era, Dixie Bohemia describes the writers, artists, poseurs, and hangers-on in the New Orleans art scene of the 1920s and illuminates how this dazzling world faded as quickly as it began.
Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses, Vampire Legends and Cities of the Dead (America's Haunted Road Trip)
Author: Kala Ambrose
Description: Join Kala Ambrose, your travel guide the other side, as she takes you back to her roots to discover the Spirits of New Orleans. As an intuitive child born in Louisiana, Kala Ambrose grew up exposed to a rich variety of cultures and influences. The city that had the strongest influence on Kala was New Orleans, the port city known for its bohemian lifestyle embracing art, music and spirituality.
Spirits of New Orleans takes you behind the scenes with detailed information about each destination. As your travel guide to the other side, Kala shares travel tips in each chapter of the book listing the best places to stay, shop, dine and party while in New Orleans!
The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld
Author: Herbert Asbury
Description: Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which listed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans's infamous red-light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But the New Orleans underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the United States, and sported one of the most violent records of street crime in the country. In The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury, author of The Gangs of New York, chronicles this rather immense underbelly of "The Big Easy." From the murderous exploits of Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson and Bridget Fury, two prostitutes who became famous after murdering a number of their associates, to the faux-revolutionary "filibusters" who, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of public support—though without official governmental approval—undertook military missions to take over the bordering Spanish regions in Texas, the French Quarter had it all. Once again, Asbury takes the reader on an intriguing, photograph-filled journey through a unique version of the American underworld.
The Haunted History of New Orleans: Ghosts of the French Quarter
Author: James Caskey
Description: This book chronicles one writer's journey to New Orleans, LA, and his quest to find the most haunted locations in the French Quarter. Tag along as he interviews eyewitnesses, historians, and tour guides in one of the most haunted cities in America, What mysterious secrets did he dig up in the dusty archives? Uncover some shocking facts about the Crescent City: how he encountered the wrath of a long-dead Voodoo Queen, had an amazing revelation about one of New Orleans' most famous haunted spots while standing at a Bourbon Street crossroads, and even got to experience his very own haunting, right in the middle of an interview. The Haunted History of New Orleans is not simply a collection of ghost stories, but instead is an experiential search for truth: a quest which will take you into the darker side of history. This book examines the amazing amounts of tragedy in the Crescent City, from the founding right up to present day. Over 35 photos and illustrations!
Why New Orleans Matters
Author: Tom Piazza
Description: In the aftermath of Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. Now what will become of New Orleans in the years ahead? What do this proud, battered city and its people mean to America and the world?
Award-winning author and longtime New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and neglected American metropolis by evoking the sensuous rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking; examining its deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice; and explaining how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world: its grace and beauty, resilience and soul.