Once again, I have managed to fast-talk my way into persuading the editors of the august journal Bookforum into printing my musings, in this most recent case about the early history of the great American city of New Orleans. New Orleans is perhaps the only city in the United States where, if you were dropped by parachute into any one part of town, you'd immediately know what city you were in -- because of the architecture, the food, the music, the humidity. The book under review, Ned Sublette's The World That Made New Orleans, helps explain why that happened.
My favroite fact from this book is that among the first groups of emigrants to the Crescent City (nobody who lived there ever called it the Big Easy until that movie came out) were “160 prostitutes and 96 teenaged débauchées,” rounded up and deported from France. Would that I could spend one more day as a teenaged débauchée on the streets of New Orleans.