EMPIRE OF SIN                                     GARY KRIST
Posted:  Feb. 11, 2015

20697466Empire 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. 

Empire of Sin, is a history of New Orleans from really after the Civil War. The author looks into some of the more not so pleasant stories of this storied city. Like the lynching of 11 Italians one day after a trail found 3 to be not guilty, 3 a hung jury, and 5 still had not been tired yet. This was for the alleged murder of the police chief after he had just fired two police officers an hour before. This is a story that I had read about a while back. An entire book was written just on this crime that book went into more detail because the man who created the lynching was also the one who wanted control of the docks where houses where both of the head of the Italian families owned and did not want to sell. After this the man was able to control the docks with paying, this was not brought up in this book, they just keep saying that the Black Hand, killed the Chief. Black Hand is what the Sicilians, before the Mafia. The author then goes into the seedy night life and how for decades the city leaders tried to get rid of that part of town but really never succeeded. He also goes into the race problems that started really in the late 1890’s and then proceeded to get worse year after year. This part of the story was strange to me because originally New Orleans was probably the most diversified city in our Nation up to the Civil War. Then 30 years after the war as more white people moved into the city they pushed out the population that had been there the longest. Just like the Native Americans. Then when they were elected they then had some of the strictest racial laws in the Nation. When now we think of Orleans as Jazz, well once a musician became well known they left for Chicago usually and most never returned to their home. Louie Armstrong, was gone for a little over 40 tears and when the city had new leaders and trying to change the city once again the begged for him to come home and gave him a big party to welcome there now favorite son home along with jazz, but for almost 50 years they pushed the music and the people out of their home town New Orleans. The author gives you many individual stories that were very interesting to say the least. My only complete is slight is he makes a jump from the beginning of 1950 to now, touching a little on the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the destruction and how still some of the Wards are not rebuilt and the people left were effected once again. Overall though a good book and some fascinating stories. I got this book from net galley.  5 Stars.

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