Praise for Empire of Sin||||||||||||||||||||
One of The Washington Post's Ten Best Books of 2014*
One of Library Journal's Ten Best Books of 2014*
A Goodreads Best Book of the Month for October 2014*
A Bloggers Recommend Must-Read Book*
from The New York Times Book Review
“Gary Krist...chronicles the crazy excitement of the Storyville era in this well-reported and colorful tale of jazz, sex, crime and corruption. I can attest, as a native of New Orleans, that in Empire of Sin he has captured the flavors and class nuances of the town. And his interwoven story lines, intentionally or not, evoke a piece of jazz.”
from The Wall Street Journal
"Compelling...an absorbing history with a body count...Mr. Krist can turn a phrase with the best. He also allows his characters and sources plenty of opportunity to speak, with the result a delightful conversation. [Storyville]...provides ample fodder for Mr. Krist's talent as a storyteller and strength as a researcher. He has written the authoritative account of a raucous American experiment."
from The Washington Post
“While there have been many fine books written about the city's Storyville era, ... Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin is certainly one of the most well-researched and well-written, a true-life tale of a sui generis American city that reads like a historical thriller… The book’s subtitle, A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, sums up Krist’s story well — it’s a book both lurid and scholarly, and thoroughly entertaining.”
from The Chicago Tribune
“Wide-reaching, vividly drawn…Empire of Sin is Krist's meticulously researched, mesmerizing account of New Orleans' outsized vice wars. The book itself is a masterful sleight-of-hand…Moving between parallel narratives, Krist simultaneously — and elegantly — layers more than 30 years of sharply drawn Crescent City social history. It's a backdrop as lush and intricate as a Mardi Gras Ball tableaux vivant — a raucous living portrait...Krist finesses this — lifting data and record to poetry — by procuring specific, redolent details from centuries-old documents…and from them the swirl of frontier New Orleans slides into view. Krist's expansive exploration of the decadeslong battle for New Orleans' soul in the end celebrates New Orleans' character, its essence: the city's long history of defiance and resilience; its ability to pivot in the midst of disaster. Empire of Sin isn't simply the story of how New Orleans came to be, but rather how New Orleans came to learn to fight.”
from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“In Empire of Sin, author Gary Krist presents a thrilling tableau... [It's] the perfect follow-up to his last book, City of Scoundrels, an expose of 12 horrible days in Chicago in 1919. The same factors were in play in New Orleans as in Chicago--race, vigilantism, and politics--but Krist expands his keen focus to explain how the emergence of jazz stood up to a darker type of reform.”
from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Masterful...New Orleans' venal turn-of-the-century past has gotten a book worthy of the rich material in Gary Krist's 'Empire of Sin.'...Gary Krist's engaging book hits all the right notes."
from The Dallas Morning News
"Nobody writes about decadence and disaster like Gary Krist…Empire of Sin is perfect grist for Krist. The subtitle promises “Sex, Jazz, and Murder,” and it does not lie. The only surprise is that Krist and New Orleans took so long to get together… Krist, a superb writer of fiction as well as popular history, has re-created a time and place that we’ll never see again. Empire of Sin is packed with enough color, atmosphere and decadence to fill years of miniseries. You can almost hear Sidney Bechet’s clarinet and Louis Armstrong’s cornet floating through the pages."
from The Journal of Southern History
“Popular history at its best, weaving together vice culture, the birth of jazz, Italian immigration and discrimination, and the spirit of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Progressive reform to create a portrait of New Orleans from the birth of Jim Crow to the birth of Prohibition, using infamous unsolved ax murders as a thread to tie those parts together... It is popular history, but it is strong history, finding the intricate connections between race, class, and gender, between vice and cultural production, between crime and the impetus for reform.”
from The Seattle Times
“[I]n Gary Krist’s well-researched account of New Orleans’ turn-of-the-century underworld, there is no mistaking his affection for the ribald and rowdy...Krist is an enthusiastic raconteur of the forgotten. He tears through diaries and old newspapers, bringing fleshy life to what might otherwise dissolve into sepia.”
from The Independent (UK)
"New Orleans from the 1890s through to the 1920s, expertly described here by Krist, was the setting for a battle between the warring civic factions that lasted decades--with casualties on both sides...It's a fascinating and colourful saga that, in the skillful hands of Krist, reads almost like an E.L. Doctorow novel and invites us all to take a trip 'way down yonder.'"
from The Rumpus
“Empire of Sin is one of those rare works that is both well-written and well-researched… These citizens of the demimonde dance. On the page, they’re still alive, drinking whisky and shooting at people who
have slighted them… This book shows why the Crescent City has always been one of the most vibrant places in the country.”
from The Christian Science Monitor
"[A] riveting new book about the Big Easy's bloody transition from a tolerant vice-friendly town to an embrace of refinement and racism...Empire of Sin is a thrill to read despite its heartbreaking storyline."
from The New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans has something for everyone who has ever staggered down Bourbon Street with a Kindle. Krist spent a lot of time in the city’s great archival collections, wondering why our funky hometown got this way. And, boy did he latch onto a story.”
from Publishers Weekly
"[A] rich, well-structured story more vivid and twist-filled than most crime fiction…Armed with both well-placed primary sources and an addictive, climactic narrative, Krist leads a perfect trip into the short-lived societal experiment aptly named 'Storyville.'"
from Library Journal
"Verdict: Highly recommended."
"With the same surety he brought to his succinct retelling of the fall and subsequent rise of modern Chicago in City of Scoundrels, Gary Krist details the fascinating history of another American city...Krist excellently summarizes a momentous era in a complicated city. Black-and-white photos of many of the main characters add to the narrative's historical appeal. Indeed, 'characters' is apt, since Empire of Sin reads almost like fiction as musicians, criminals, prostitutes and businessmen mix and mingle on the streets of old New Orleans. A fascinating history."
from The Boston Globe
"Vivid and thoughtful…Gary Krist’s “Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans’’ is a restrained, well-researched account of “an all-out civil war” that pitted the city’s reform-minded elites the against the booze and sex trades, as well as the city’s Italian and black residents who got caught up in the crossfire."
from The Wichita Eagle
"Endlessly fascinating...a compelling social and artistic document...'Empire of Sin' is a meticulously researched and well-written popular history that provides endless insights into the machinations of city politics, the connection between law enforcement and vice, and the by-play among commercialized sex, race relations, modern music, and gang crime."
"[A] captivating history...A fascinating, detail-filled tribute to a city and an era."
from Kirkus Reviews
“A colorful account…richly detailed…lively….A wild, well-told tale.”
from The American Scholar
“Krist deftly weaves Anderson's rise and fall into a much broader tale involving race relations, prostitution, jazz, and the underworld of Italian immigrants... What keeps it going are well-crafted vignettes and deftly rendered character profiles, in which reformers aren't necessarily holy, and their targets are often possessed of considerable charm.”
from The New Orleans Advocate
“Masterful...Gary Krist delves into a dark alley of New Orleans history and drags out a fantastically engaging story that, even though it's 100 years old, still rings out today.”
from Acadiana Lifestyle
“A fabulously rich and colorful chronicle of New Orleans at the turn of the century.”
from Where New Orleans
“Focusing on the battle for (and against) morality in “the Sodom of the South” from the 1890s to the early 20th century, Krist’s hard-to-put-down read recounts a volatile time for vice in a town built on it.”
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