Empire of Sin by Gary Krist

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Never had a title been so apt.

Quick synopsis: The story of New Orleans in the early 1900s.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Guess which city had the first legal red-light district in the country? Yup, you got it.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Louis Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans and got his start there. If you asked, “who is that” or said something like “the guy who walked on the moon” then I want you off my site right now. Go to Wikipedia and come back. Wait, go to Wikipedia, then Spotify, and then come back.

My Take: Gary Krist has three books which center on a city during a specific and important time in its development. I can’t stress enough how much I usually dislike this genre. I find trying to encapsulate the development of something as large as a city is usually too unwieldy for a single book. Well, I hate this genre unless Gary Krist is writing it.

Krist focuses on a few different people to center his story around. New Orleans has one of the most complex histories of any city and its mishmash of cultures is a perfect illustration of that. Tom Anderson is the major standout and encapsulates the decadence New Orleans is known for. I don’t know personally. Whenever I went there, I only went to church. Shut up.

Along the way, you will hear about various prostitutes, corrupt politicians, and the aforementioned Louis Armstrong. It’s a great book, go read it.

Verdict: Krist can make the phone book interesting. Read it.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Gary Krist, City of Scoundrels
  • Gary Krist, The Mirage Factory
  • Gary Krist, The White Cascade
  • Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World
  • David McCullough, The Johnstown Flood
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Empire of Sin by Gary Krist
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