A solid, rewarding book that could have been great with some judicious pruning.



A detailed, angry look at the Crescent City’s imperiled players and traditions in Hurricane Katrina’s wake.

Veteran music journalist Swenson (The Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide, 1999, etc.), a New Orleans resident since 1999, surveys the havoc wreaked on his adopted hometown’s music scene after the so-called “federal flood” of August 2005. Already threatened by the erosion of southern Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, the city was flattened by the massive storm, which scattered its musicians around the country. Swenson details the natives’ taxing attempts to reinstate the indigenous musical culture, one of the country’s national treasures, within a shattered civic infrastructure. He interviews dozens of locals, ranging from vets like Dr. John, Dr. Michael White and Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers to young lions like Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and his troubled cousin Glen David Andrews. The author excoriates the city fathers, whose thinly veiled racism led to post-Katrina opposition to the Mardi Gras Indian tribes and practitioners of funeral “second lining” (parading). Despite chaos and escalating violence, the music community courageously restored itself. However, after a description of the celebration of the New Orleans Saints’ uplifting 2010 Super Bowl victory, the book ends on a downbeat note with a rushed look at the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon pipeline disaster, which wracked the region anew. Readers won’t fault Swenson’s journalism, comprising on-the-ground observation and interviews, and he is at home with every pertinent musical genre, from jazz and funk to rock, gospel and hip-hop. But the lax organization and editing of the book often slow the narrative’s momentum and lose the thread of the tale. Chapters stutter to a halt with lengthy explications of artists’ careers, replete with unsifted quotes, or with endless descriptions of performances in clubs or on festival stages. These notebook-clearing exercises too frequently swamp Swenson’s powerfully affecting story of New Orleans’ monumental cultural tragedy and gutsy rebirth.

A solid, rewarding book that could have been great with some judicious pruning.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-19-975452-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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