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Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which indexed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans' infamous red light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But New Orleans' underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the U.S., and sported one o Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which indexed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans' infamous red light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But New Orleans' underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the U.S., and sported one of the most violent records of street crime in the country. In The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury details the immense underbelly of "The Big Easy," from the murderous exploits of Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson and Bridget Fury, two notorious prostitutes whose fits of violent rage were legendary, to the revolutionary "filibusters;" soldiers-of-fortune, who, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of public support, (but without governmental approval) undertook military missions to take over the bordering Spanish regions in Texas. (back cover)


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Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which indexed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans' infamous red light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But New Orleans' underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the U.S., and sported one o Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which indexed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans' infamous red light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But New Orleans' underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the U.S., and sported one of the most violent records of street crime in the country. In The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury details the immense underbelly of "The Big Easy," from the murderous exploits of Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson and Bridget Fury, two notorious prostitutes whose fits of violent rage were legendary, to the revolutionary "filibusters;" soldiers-of-fortune, who, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of public support, (but without governmental approval) undertook military missions to take over the bordering Spanish regions in Texas. (back cover)

30 review for The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard Gazala

    If contemplating whether to read "The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld," consider first this fact about the book's author, Herbert Asbury: Asbury's initial fame came in 1926 when H.L. Mencken published in Mencken's magazine, "The American Mercury," an article by Asbury about a small-town Missouri prostitute who serviced her Protestant customers in a Catholic cemetery, and vice-versa. The article achieved sufficient notoriety to get Mencken's magazine promptly ban If contemplating whether to read "The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld," consider first this fact about the book's author, Herbert Asbury: Asbury's initial fame came in 1926 when H.L. Mencken published in Mencken's magazine, "The American Mercury," an article by Asbury about a small-town Missouri prostitute who serviced her Protestant customers in a Catholic cemetery, and vice-versa. The article achieved sufficient notoriety to get Mencken's magazine promptly banned in Boston. Adroitly sensing a promotional opportunity too golden to miss, Mencken quickly ventured to Boston, openly sold his magazine on the Boston Common, and was arrested with all deliberate haste. Mencken's magazine sales subsequently skyrocketed across the country, and Asbury's renown was assured. Asbury brings the same (in)sensibilities required to write for national publication an article about a strumpet plying her trade in pastoral cemeteries to "The French Quarter." Reading other reviews will amply inform prospective readers regarding this wonderful book's stories about New Orleans, and how Asbury spins them so well for his audience. On a cautionary note, as may be expected in a book written many decades ago about racially charged times in a capital of the South, "The French Quarter" is far from politically correct by any modern measure. Proceed accordingly, but do proceed -- it's a fun, fantastic, and essential journey through the long, twisted history of one of America's great cities.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cornelia

    This is an excellent book on New Orleans/Louisiana history. I found it engaging and enjoyed learning more background on this area and time period. It was enjoyable to read something published in 1936 because it prompted me to look into different definitions of words and actions. I wonder how someone writing about the same period would express themselves today?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eli Hornyak

    Great history of New Orleans from settlement until the early 1900’s. Dueling, Prostitution, Piracy, Corruption, and Murder. This is a must read for anyone interested in the seedy history of New Orleans.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Murf Reeves

    I love reading this book, and I understand now why New Orleans is the way it is. A city built in a broken fashioned, populated by broken people that were left to their own devices and eventually made a city work, unlike any other city. The original settlers survived through much, in addition to what was going on around the country. Also if you read carefully, Asbury leaves some tributaries that, if followed, would run off into the larger ideas of the development of a style of cuisine and music, I love reading this book, and I understand now why New Orleans is the way it is. A city built in a broken fashioned, populated by broken people that were left to their own devices and eventually made a city work, unlike any other city. The original settlers survived through much, in addition to what was going on around the country. Also if you read carefully, Asbury leaves some tributaries that, if followed, would run off into the larger ideas of the development of a style of cuisine and music, that exists nowhere else in the world and would not have existed if New Orleans did not develop the way it has been and continues to do so.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Everyone who loves New Orleans should probably read this highly entertaining book at least once, despite its historical shortcomings. Asbury's account of the birth of jazz, for example, is nonsense. His research has the feel of someone who has spent a lot of time burrowing through the newspaper morgues at the New Orleans Public Library, but to his credit he managed to turn his labors into one of the best compendiums of Crescent City mayhem, smut, and murder ever collected between two covers. Everyone who loves New Orleans should probably read this highly entertaining book at least once, despite its historical shortcomings. Asbury's account of the birth of jazz, for example, is nonsense. His research has the feel of someone who has spent a lot of time burrowing through the newspaper morgues at the New Orleans Public Library, but to his credit he managed to turn his labors into one of the best compendiums of Crescent City mayhem, smut, and murder ever collected between two covers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The French Quarter, today, is that rather touristy part of old New Orleans where thousands of travelers go in search of the “real” experience of Louisiana culture. Yet even if that experience is largely mediated through the instrumentalities of the modern tourism economy, the French Quarter does have a long and compelling history – and some of that history is quite dark, as historian Herbert Asbury chronicles in his 1936 book The French Quarter. Asbury, a hard-working and prolific journalist of t The French Quarter, today, is that rather touristy part of old New Orleans where thousands of travelers go in search of the “real” experience of Louisiana culture. Yet even if that experience is largely mediated through the instrumentalities of the modern tourism economy, the French Quarter does have a long and compelling history – and some of that history is quite dark, as historian Herbert Asbury chronicles in his 1936 book The French Quarter. Asbury, a hard-working and prolific journalist of the early- to mid-20th century, became best-known for his crime histories. From the time when he published The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld in 1928, Asbury found that the reading public of staid, respectable, repressed Prohibition-era America had an inexhaustible appetite for stories of vice. Today, Asbury is probably best-known for four crime histories – one for a major city from each of the four major regions of the country: The Barbary Coast (1933), about San Francisco; Gem of the Prairie (1940), dealing with Chicago; and of course The Gangs of New York and The French Quarter. This Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld (the book’s subtitle) focuses on New Orleans’s development as a bustling economic center where people of many different cultures came together. Given those circumstances, perhaps it is no surprise that New Orleans became a center of crime quite early. Different chapters and sections of the book describe the importance of vodun (“voodoo”) as a belief system for the African and African-American people of old New Orleans; the Congo Square area that was the only place where enslaved people were allowed to gather in antebellum times; the “filibusters” who used New Orleans as a base for attempts to invade and subvert various Latin American or Caribbean governments; the white-supremacist “White League” riots that sought to topple Louisiana’s Reconstruction government in 1874; and the Storyville red-light district where prostitution remained legal until 1917. The better one knows New Orleans and its history, the more one will enjoy The French Quarter. There is a kind of unholy glee to Asbury’s descriptions of New Orleans crime in The French Quarter, as when he describes how “the Swamp,” a vice area along Girod Street, sprang up early to serve the rough-and-tumble flatboatmen who floated goods down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and then flocked to the French Quarter in search of a good time: “Frequently all of the various enterprises of the Swamp were under one roof, and in many the standard rates were so low that for a picayune (six cents) a boatman could get a drink, a woman, and a bed for the night – and the practical certainty of getting robbed, and perhaps murdered, as soon as he fell asleep” (p. 100). There was more “organized” violence and crime in New Orleans as well. The city suffered from the same political violence that affected much of American society during the 1850’s, when the nativist “Know-Nothing” party used force and intimidation to prevent voting by immigrants and any other Americans who were not of “pure” Anglo-Saxon heritage. In response, the city’s Creole population formed in 1858 a Vigilance Committee pledged to “restore public order, abate crime, and expel or punish, as the law may determine, such notorious robbers and assassins as the arm of the law has, either from the infidelity of its public servants, or the inefficiency of the laws themselves, left unwhipped of justice” (p. 300). It will not surprise the reader that the conflict between the Know-Nothings and the Vigilantes ended in hideous violence. Knowing that his readers want the delicious chill or frisson of reading about forbidden behavior, Asbury seeks to evoke the larger-than-life qualities of his criminal anti-heroes, as with this description of Tug Wilson: “Tug Wilson was probably the most notorious rowdy, and one of the most ferocious fighters, who appeared in New Orleans after the Civil War; he was a familiar figure in the saloons, the red-light district, and the speakeasies from the early 1880’s until his death in 1934. He was in his heyday during the former period, when hoodlums were the salt of the earth in New Orleans. In some six or eight years he was arrested more than a hundred times for fighting, drinking, and gambling, but he was an invaluable man on election day and actually spent very little time behind the bars. He was extremely strong, and once broke the doors of five cells in the police jail, one after another. At the height of his career he always wore a plug hat and a long-tailed coat, the pockets of which were filled with broken mugs and beer bottles, his favorite weapons.” (pp. 400-01) Moralists among the readership of The French Quarter would have appreciated Asbury’s emphasis on the malign fates awaiting these ne’er-do-wells of old New Orleans. In a chapter on the riverboat gamblers of the Mississippi, Asbury tells of a colorful character named Napoleon Bonaparte White, or “Poley,” who prospered as the proprietor of a gambling house but saw both of his sons meet tragic ends. “Poley” met his own fate in 1889: “[B]roke and upset by a new anti-gambling ordinance which the police apparently meant to enforce, Poley borrowed a few dollars from a Royal Street bartender and bought a revolver and an ounce of sulphate of morphine. Then he called upon all of his friends and told them good-by, saying he was going home to kill himself, which he did” (p. 200). As he does in his other books, Asbury concludes The French Quarter by reassuring his readers that all this entertaining crime history is a thing of the past – that one can now visit New Orleans in perfect safety. No doubt the members of the Orleans Parish Chamber of Commerce read that conclusion with relief. Strange to reflect that, to this day, New Orleans still has a relatively high violent-crime rate, a troubling organized-crime presence, and an enduring history of municipal and police corruption. In order to find this book properly entertaining, as author Asbury would have wanted it, the reader may not want to think too hard about these modern-day problems while savoring the colorful old-time crime stories of The French Quarter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I bought this book at the wonderful Gift Shop for The Historic New Orleans Collection Museum in The French Quarter. The book kept my interest. It is not an all-inclusive history, if you are looking for a neat little timeline this is not it. It covers specific topics in each chapter, in depth. It does cover the more salacious topics, race, prostitution, murder, violence, piracy, slavery- the underworld. The chapters on Jean Lafitte and pirates of the Mississippi was one of my favorites. Be forewa I bought this book at the wonderful Gift Shop for The Historic New Orleans Collection Museum in The French Quarter. The book kept my interest. It is not an all-inclusive history, if you are looking for a neat little timeline this is not it. It covers specific topics in each chapter, in depth. It does cover the more salacious topics, race, prostitution, murder, violence, piracy, slavery- the underworld. The chapters on Jean Lafitte and pirates of the Mississippi was one of my favorites. Be forewarned that this book was written in the 1930's, so the language used regarding race and women may be jarring until you remember you are reading a historical account. Also this is not a sequel to The Gangs of New York as is stated on the cover, but a stand alone book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    R. Michael

    To be sure, Asbury's book has its problems. Foremost among them is its uneasy footing regarding the deep racism in New Orleans' history. At times, Asbury seems sympathetic to people of color in the city; at others, their essential inferiority to people of European lineage appears to be taken as a given. It is often difficult to tell if Asbury is merely echoing the backwards sentiments of the times about which he writes, or whether he himself has simply tacitly accepted some form of white suprema To be sure, Asbury's book has its problems. Foremost among them is its uneasy footing regarding the deep racism in New Orleans' history. At times, Asbury seems sympathetic to people of color in the city; at others, their essential inferiority to people of European lineage appears to be taken as a given. It is often difficult to tell if Asbury is merely echoing the backwards sentiments of the times about which he writes, or whether he himself has simply tacitly accepted some form of white supremacy. Needless to say, this makes for some uncomfortable reading. Asbury also reports things that are contradicted in more recent writing on the history of the Crescent City. One example that leaps to mind is Asbury's assertion that the lives of slaves improved considerably once the United States took over Louisiana. Ned Sublette, in his excellent book "The World that Made New Orleans" suggests very much the opposite. All of that having been said, there are some great stories in here. Asbury does an excellent job of exploring the strange and seedy side of New Orleans, from its earliest days through the end of the red light district known as Storyville. There are tons of colorful and incredible characters here, and stories too strange to be fictional. Whether or not that makes up for the uncertain perspective on race is something that everyone who reads the book will need to determine. For me -- given my purpose for reading the book to begin with -- it was. Just. It's a really fascinating read, but it has some important problems.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    To begin allow me to address the cover and resulting mis-marketing of Herbert Asbury’s The French Quarter. The book is billed as a sequel to Asbury’s hit The Gangs of New York and the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, but The French Quarter is not a sequel. Rather it is a completely independent look into the history of New Orleans and its criminal underworld. It is a poor decision that can easily mislead a potential reader. The French Quarter itself is a detailed and enthralling look into Am To begin allow me to address the cover and resulting mis-marketing of Herbert Asbury’s The French Quarter. The book is billed as a sequel to Asbury’s hit The Gangs of New York and the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, but The French Quarter is not a sequel. Rather it is a completely independent look into the history of New Orleans and its criminal underworld. It is a poor decision that can easily mislead a potential reader. The French Quarter itself is a detailed and enthralling look into America’s original Sin City from its early beginnings as France’s dumping ground for society’s undesirables to the infamous relight district of Storyville. Asbury writes with a historian’s love for complexity and a journalist’s hand for storytelling. Each chapter fleshes out an aspect and time in the history of New Orleans’ criminal underworld from ruffians on the Mississippi River, pirates in the Gulf of Mexico, corruption in government, and more. Although Asbury’s facts are at times shaky particularly in regards to his very brief description of the birth of Jazz, The French Quarter is a treat to those who enjoy true crime and history. There are many other volumes on similar themes that run the gambit between the salacious to dry, but Asbury’s The French Quarter manages to combine facts and folklore into an enjoyable account of the Crescent City’s dark side.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott Pomfret

    This is a breezy, well-written, non-academic history of the French Quarter and New Orleans generally -- literary equivalent perhaps to the best of the city's tourist tours. It is full of charming and outrageous anecdotes of all kinds and colorful characters from madames to politicians to thugs. Due to its age, there are a few politically incorrect musings, but overall the text comes across as relatively modern--particularly in the treatment of the wily and thuggish women/madames. Needless perhaps This is a breezy, well-written, non-academic history of the French Quarter and New Orleans generally -- literary equivalent perhaps to the best of the city's tourist tours. It is full of charming and outrageous anecdotes of all kinds and colorful characters from madames to politicians to thugs. Due to its age, there are a few politically incorrect musings, but overall the text comes across as relatively modern--particularly in the treatment of the wily and thuggish women/madames. Needless perhaps to say, the focus is virtually entirely on the seedy side of the Quarter. Far less time (none?) is given to positive portrayals or to music or the influences of French and Spanish culture or to any serious investigation of voodoo and its Catholic influences. Hence, you get what you paid for -- a little titillation, a few laughs, some outrage--and a desire to check out the tour and have a cocktail.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alana Cash

    This is a very interesting book. Published in 1936, it covers the entire history of New Orleans (not just the "underworld"). I got such a different perspective on the history of the US (Aaron Burr wasn't such a patriot) and how rough the original settlers really were. The books covers the history of trade and shipping on the Mississippi - from pole barges to steam ships - and the violent people who manned them. These people fought viciously - biting off noses and ears. It does cover the bars, br This is a very interesting book. Published in 1936, it covers the entire history of New Orleans (not just the "underworld"). I got such a different perspective on the history of the US (Aaron Burr wasn't such a patriot) and how rough the original settlers really were. The books covers the history of trade and shipping on the Mississippi - from pole barges to steam ships - and the violent people who manned them. These people fought viciously - biting off noses and ears. It does cover the bars, brothels, and gambling houses as well as the development of civilization (really there was none really until the 20th century). It is not politically correct nor does it romanticize the past in any manner. It is very well written and researched. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chad Majorie

    Cool, fun read. Great for Native New Orleanians

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Moss

    This is a history of New Orleans and the French Quarter, from the earliest Western settlements to the end of the 19th century. It's less a story than a chronicle (think Barbara Tuchman rather than Gangs of New York, although Herbert Asbury, who wrote this book, also wrote Gangs of New York). And it's a chronicle of the underworld of New Orleans, not a history of the city per se. Asbury takes us through a colorful succession of scoundrels, giving the impression of New Orleans as a kind of small-s This is a history of New Orleans and the French Quarter, from the earliest Western settlements to the end of the 19th century. It's less a story than a chronicle (think Barbara Tuchman rather than Gangs of New York, although Herbert Asbury, who wrote this book, also wrote Gangs of New York). And it's a chronicle of the underworld of New Orleans, not a history of the city per se. Asbury takes us through a colorful succession of scoundrels, giving the impression of New Orleans as a kind of small-scale criminal opportunist's paradise -- there's always a way to cheat other people out of their money, take advantage of others' greed and/or gullibility, and capitalize on the "vice" trade. One of the things I learned by reading Asbury's book was the diversity of influences on New Orleans culture -- Caribbean and African blacks, Acadian/French, Spanish, English, Irish, Italian, . . . . (Native Americans are not prominently mentioned -- not sure if that's just a reflection of Asbury's emphasis on the New Orleans underworld). The mafia and even the Spanish Inquisition (which no one suspects) play a role alongside river thieves, brothel owners, gamblers, and all the rest. Especially striking are the number of women who appear in roles as brothel owners, thieves, and murderers. Not a page-turner but a book that will give you a broader perspective on the history of New Orleans.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Briony

    A lot of incredible things have occurred in New Orleans since its establishment so this book is chock full of interesting tales, yet I found this languished in areas and breezed over some really exciting people and moments in history (Marie Leveau in only a page and a half?!). This may be a product of trying to fit too much within one book but at times it feels repetitive (it didn't need several full pages of prostitutes ads when they're all "same same but different"), at others it's just glorif A lot of incredible things have occurred in New Orleans since its establishment so this book is chock full of interesting tales, yet I found this languished in areas and breezed over some really exciting people and moments in history (Marie Leveau in only a page and a half?!). This may be a product of trying to fit too much within one book but at times it feels repetitive (it didn't need several full pages of prostitutes ads when they're all "same same but different"), at others it's just glorified name dropping of many, many (many many) people and streets and their significance or stories are never explained. So many names that you forget who did what to whom immediately. The author also presumes previous knowledge about American history and terms so frequently as a reader you're left wondering about what things mean or their significance. Something I'm yet to encounter in other books of its kind. It's hard to make a book full of so many colourful people and events drag, and yet...this did.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carol Lynn Rivera

    Average. Some interesting things about crime and debauchery in New Orleans up until about 1900. Not the most exciting book I've ever read, lots of names and dates and names and dates. Sometimes reads more like a history text book than something you'd pick up for fun. But I did get some fun facts and stories that I didn't know. Definitely a product of its time given some of the language and descriptions. Heavier on facts than social analysis, of which I'd say there was approximately none. So pick Average. Some interesting things about crime and debauchery in New Orleans up until about 1900. Not the most exciting book I've ever read, lots of names and dates and names and dates. Sometimes reads more like a history text book than something you'd pick up for fun. But I did get some fun facts and stories that I didn't know. Definitely a product of its time given some of the language and descriptions. Heavier on facts than social analysis, of which I'd say there was approximately none. So pick this up if you want a couple of good stories but don't feel bad skipping paragraphs of people's names.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lane Casteix

    Very interesting history book. Some details of New orleans history were not mentioned, like the Sazerac Cocktail and the Ramos Gin Fizz in the drinking section. Surprised that drinks so famously associated with NOLA were not covered. The book was pretty dark and focused on the more steamier side of NOLA history. I found it entertaining and educational. I will keep it for future reference.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Cleaves

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Written in 1936, this book is offensively racist using the term “nigger” until around page 450 where they began to use the term “negro”. It’s difficult to work past the rage at the author’s bigotry and the insensitivity of the publisher who ratified the racism in republishing the book without change.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Murtha

    While it is true that Herbert Asbury's books don't really separate the urban legends from the history, they are still fabulously entertaining and have become part of the cultural traditions of the cities they chronicle. While it is true that Herbert Asbury's books don't really separate the urban legends from the history, they are still fabulously entertaining and have become part of the cultural traditions of the cities they chronicle.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    A difficult read, in that it was more of a text book than novel, but full of interesting facts and characters. A great history of the bawdy side of New Orleans's history. A difficult read, in that it was more of a text book than novel, but full of interesting facts and characters. A great history of the bawdy side of New Orleans's history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vzenari

    I don’t automatically trust all that is in this book but I have a place to start verifying details at least

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is a lengthy, but interesting and often entertaining book about the history of New Orleans' underworld. The author takes us from the 17th Century up to what was, for him, the present day of the 1930s with anecdotes, data, and even newspaper reproductions to show us what life was like during the area's colorful past. Asbury's research is impeccable, and he most certainly takes the reader with him on a journey. I found myself remembering that the 1930s were not present times and giving leeway This is a lengthy, but interesting and often entertaining book about the history of New Orleans' underworld. The author takes us from the 17th Century up to what was, for him, the present day of the 1930s with anecdotes, data, and even newspaper reproductions to show us what life was like during the area's colorful past. Asbury's research is impeccable, and he most certainly takes the reader with him on a journey. I found myself remembering that the 1930s were not present times and giving leeway for some of his attitudes (when dealing with history and historical documents, it's imperative to leave out the presentism). I bought this book on a recent trip to New Orleans to serve as research for my own work, and it was a very good choice indeed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Byron Varvel

    If the book had just focused on the underworld and not the historical connotations this book would have done a lot better. He fails to mention the Corsican mob in this novel and also the FLQ was not mentioned in this book either which dealt extensively in the heroin trade in French Quarter for decades. I felt like this book was scattered and had spotty research and many underpinned assumptions even though most of the Anglo-American and Sicilian crime in the book was true, the book was without vo If the book had just focused on the underworld and not the historical connotations this book would have done a lot better. He fails to mention the Corsican mob in this novel and also the FLQ was not mentioned in this book either which dealt extensively in the heroin trade in French Quarter for decades. I felt like this book was scattered and had spotty research and many underpinned assumptions even though most of the Anglo-American and Sicilian crime in the book was true, the book was without voice and was a bland city biography. An average book, it will do fine for the regular crime researcher, but a very lacking book as well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Oakley

    This book is by the same guy who wrote Gangs of New York and examines the criminal underbelly of the Crescent City going back to the Spanish colonial times. Sometimes it's a little hard to separate fact from fiction, but it seems well informed. I read this before I went there and had a different appreciation for the different neighborhoods and streets now crowded with tourists. Seems like this would make a good Scorcese movie too. This book is by the same guy who wrote Gangs of New York and examines the criminal underbelly of the Crescent City going back to the Spanish colonial times. Sometimes it's a little hard to separate fact from fiction, but it seems well informed. I read this before I went there and had a different appreciation for the different neighborhoods and streets now crowded with tourists. Seems like this would make a good Scorcese movie too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Brissette

    This book was good. It wasn't however what i expected and that is why I gave it 3 stars. Honestly the amount of research and work that went into its construction deserve more. However the book is marketed as an informal history and references "The Gangs of New York" also by this author. However instead of the historofictional setting in "Gangs" this piece is more of a guide book or history book. It's interesting but by no means a page turner. This book was good. It wasn't however what i expected and that is why I gave it 3 stars. Honestly the amount of research and work that went into its construction deserve more. However the book is marketed as an informal history and references "The Gangs of New York" also by this author. However instead of the historofictional setting in "Gangs" this piece is more of a guide book or history book. It's interesting but by no means a page turner.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Groves

    What I learned from this book about America's most fascinating city immeasurably enhanced my understanding of New Orleans. Published in the 1930s, this book focuses on the most lurid aspects of New Orleans, from the prostitutes to the murders, from the race riots to the slave auctions, from the public tortures to the pirates. Indispensable! What I learned from this book about America's most fascinating city immeasurably enhanced my understanding of New Orleans. Published in the 1930s, this book focuses on the most lurid aspects of New Orleans, from the prostitutes to the murders, from the race riots to the slave auctions, from the public tortures to the pirates. Indispensable!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sheilamarie

    I started this book thinking it would have a lot of info on Madame LaLaurie, it didn't, only about 3 pages. It is a very good read for a good indepth look at how the French Quarter came to be, going back to the Spaniards up until the mid 1800s. I gave it a 3 star because although historically interesting it is a slooooow read. I started this book thinking it would have a lot of info on Madame LaLaurie, it didn't, only about 3 pages. It is a very good read for a good indepth look at how the French Quarter came to be, going back to the Spaniards up until the mid 1800s. I gave it a 3 star because although historically interesting it is a slooooow read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    The book is mis-titled (it happens all over New Orleans), at times over sensationalized, and disjointed, but wildly entertaining, complete with a gallery of rogues, villains, low-lifes, and even the occasional romantic figure. I wish there was some discussion of the decline of New Orleans criminality, but you can't have it all. The book is mis-titled (it happens all over New Orleans), at times over sensationalized, and disjointed, but wildly entertaining, complete with a gallery of rogues, villains, low-lifes, and even the occasional romantic figure. I wish there was some discussion of the decline of New Orleans criminality, but you can't have it all.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? I often do, so I picked up this book. Unfortunately, it is dry. How can a place of such spirit, debased fun and naughty history come across like a AAA trip guide? Just drive there and experience the quarter yourself.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Walt

    Considering Asbury's interest in the underworld, he seems to have found little of it in New Orleans. The book is more of a travel guide to the city ca. 1915 than an exploration into the underworld. Considering Asbury's interest in the underworld, he seems to have found little of it in New Orleans. The book is more of a travel guide to the city ca. 1915 than an exploration into the underworld.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom Buske

    An interesting but uneven account of the French Quarter and the history of crime in New Orleans. It was written 70 years ago, which accounts for the somewhat bizarre characterizations of the denizens of this area.

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