I don't believe a poor book could be written about New Orleans, most glamorous of American cities. But despite the competition, and there have been any number of good books in the last three years, Harnett Kane's is right out in front. He seems to have inherited the mantle of Lyle Saxon. I've loved all his plantation and bayou books, his Natchez, and now his Queen New Orleans. He gives it his best as story teller, historian, biographer, raconteur and guide. There are many characters and personalities; Bernard de Marigny, Creole, friend of Jackson, one of the early far-sighted pioneers; there's the true Manon Lescaut, another character of early New Orleans; Madeleine Hachard of the Ursuline Sisters- and Delle Isle- and Pere Dagobert. Then as the city, now French, now Spanish, now French again, is sold to the despised Americans, there's her first American governor, Claiborne, heading into little understood complexities. Next the period of the city's vast wealth- Cotton was King- political and moral depravity gave her a unique name- duelling became a fine art. In this period the stage, the opera, the famous ""placees"" or quadroons all flourished. New Orleans developed America's greatest restricted district-a singular claim to fame. More recently, the center of jazz, its virtual birthplace, widened the city's fame. Brief focus on the War between the States and its aftermath, Reconstruction, and more recently revival. In final chapters, food, drink, the famous restaurants and the Mardi Gras are covered. Kane parallels others who have shared the color of New Orleans with the tourist; where he distinguishes himself is in the first two thirds of the book in which he gives the city its storied splendour, in tradition and unique character.