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The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Squareby Ned Sublette
Synopses & Reviews
Named one of the Top 10 Books of 2008 by The Times-Picayune.
Winner of the 2009 Humanities Book of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Awarded the New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for 2008.
New Orleans is the most elusive of American cities. The product of the centuries-long struggle among three mighty empires--France, Spain, and England--and among their respective American colonies and enslaved African peoples, it has always seemed like a foreign port to most Americans, baffled as they are by its complex cultural inheritance.
The World That Made New Orleans offers a new perspective on this insufficiently understood city by telling the remarkable story of New Orleanss first century--a tale of imperial war, religious conflict, the search for treasure, the spread of slavery, the Cuban connection, the cruel aristocracy of sugar, and the very different revolutions that created the United States and Haiti. It demonstrates that New Orleans already had its own distinct personality at the time of Louisianas statehood in 1812. By then, important roots of American music were firmly planted in its urban swamp--especially in the dances at Congo Square, where enslaved Africans and African Americans appeared en masse on Sundays to, as an 1819 visitor to the city put it, rock the city.”
This book is a logical continuation of Ned Sublettes previous volume, Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, which was highly praised for its synthesis of musical, cultural, and political history. Just as that book has become a standard resource on Cuba, so too will The World That Made New Orleans long remain essential for understanding the beautiful and tragic story of this most American of cities.
"In this thoughtful, well-researched history, Sublette (Cuba and Its Music) charts the development of New Orleans, from European colonization through the Haitian revolution (which was crucial to French and American negotiations over Louisiana) to the Louisiana Purchase. Central to his account are the African slaves, who began arriving in New Orleans in 1719, and their contributions to the city's musical life. He considers, for example, how musical influences from different parts of Africa — Kongo drumming and Senegambian banjo playing — combined to forge a distinctive musical culture. Sublette also lucidly discusses New Orleans' important role in the domestic slave trade, arguing persuasively that the culture of slavery in New Orleans was different from that in Virginia or South Carolina. In New Orleans, there was a large population of free blacks, and slaves there had 'greater relative freedom' than elsewhere. Furthermore, by the early 19th century, Louisiana was home to more African-born slaves than the Upper South. Those factors, which helped perpetuate African religion and dance, combined to offer 'an alternative path of development for African American culture.' As our nation continues to ponder the future of the Big Easy, Sublette offers an informative accounting of that great city's past. 20 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Ned Sublette is the author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Cofounder of the record label Qbadisc, he coproduced the public radio program Afropop Worldwide for seven years.
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