The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans by Ned Sublette

Jan 14, 2010

I'd give this a 3-star rating for personal enjoyment of the topic but a 5-star rating for being an essential historical document of the early 21st century. So a 4-star compromise it is.

Ned Sublette's dramatic crescendo of a book is the culmination of pre-flood NOLA history. His 10 month fellowship at Tulane was during the pregnant pause before Katrina, just prior to the "murdery summer" that gave birth to the fall of a city. If you're not into musicology and serious southern history, this book just isn't going to work for you. Sublette is a professional musician, photographer, and erstwhile academic whose dedication to tracing the unbreakable connections between people's lives and their music. Most enjoyable for the lay reader are Sublette's anecdotes of New Orleans life, and how its inhabitants have traditionally teetered on the edges of danger and desire on both sides of the color line. There's a lot to love in this book, which should really come packaged with a go-cup from Parasol's.

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Reviewed by Library Staff