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Empire of sin : a story of sex, jazz, murder, and the battle for modern New Orleans
2014
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Summary
From bestselling author Gary Krist, a vibrant and immersive account of New Orleans' other civil war, at a time when commercialized vice, jazz culture, and endemic crime defined the battlegrounds of the Crescent City
 
      Empire of Sin  re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans' thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city's elite "better half" against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime. This early-20th-century battle centers on one man: Tom Anderson, the undisputed czar of the city's Storyville vice district, who fights desperately to keep his empire intact as it faces onslaughts from all sides. Surrounding him are the stories of flamboyant prostitutes, crusading moral reformers, dissolute jazzmen, ruthless Mafiosi, venal politicians, and one extremely violent serial killer, all battling for primacy in a wild and wicked city unlike any other in the world.
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Booklist Review
Though this book's title may draw in those seeking a randy true-crime tale, they will be pleasantly surprised and engrossed by Krist's in-depth, seasoned analysis of the creation, growth, and downfalls of New Orleans, particularly its colorful Storyville area, which was indeed the site of vice and murder of all sorts but also of the birth of entrepreneurships and a music unparalleled in the U.S. of the time. Dividing his tale into four eras, ranging from 1890 to 1920, and providing chapter-opening photos of characters and scenes, Krist's well-researched and -told history of New Orleans is an eye-opening tale of a melting pot of the worst (French jails and hospitals were ransacked for potential colonists) trying to make the best of its situation while attracting northern dollars and achieving respectability. There are characters here, genial, business-savvy, and cruel; concerted efforts to live and let live, along with lawlessness; and righteous reformers, all wrapped into a captivating history of an era and locale that ultimately touched much of America's arts, attitudes, and outlook. A fascinating, detail-filled tribute to a city and an era.--Kinney, Eloise Copyright 2014 Booklist
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