From bestselling author Gary Krist, a vibrant and immersive account of New Orleans’ other civil war, at a time when commercialized vice, jazz culture, and endemic crime defined the battlegrounds of the Crescent City
Empire of Sin re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans’ thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city’s elite “better half” against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime. This early-20th-century battle centers on one man: Tom Anderson, the undisputed czar of the city's Storyville vice district, who fights desperately to keep his empire intact as it faces onslaughts from all sides. Surrounding him are the stories of flamboyant prostitutes, crusading moral reformers, dissolute jazzmen, ruthless Mafiosi, venal politicians, and one extremely violent serial killer, all battling for primacy in a wild and wicked city unlike any other in the world.
This well-researched book captures an exciting chapter in the history of Louisiana's most vibrant city. During the late Victorian era, New Orleans reformers hoped to confine the city's notorious vices to one officially sanctioned district, Storyville, in order to protect the wealthier neighborhoods from seediness. Brothers, saloons, and jazz halls filled the lively, violent neighborhood, from which larger-than-life figures emerged, such as Tom Anderson, the "major of Storyville," jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton, and the "Axeman of New Orleans," a serial killer with a penchant for grocers. Narrator Dean excels in delivering this rich look at the birth of New Orleans and the struggle over its morality. His voice, a deep clear baritone, delivers the countless stories of shootings, seductions, and crime lords with enough solemnity to underscore the historical evolution of the city, but inflects the perfect touch of wryness while relaying the scandalous events and outrageous characters. An entertaining, educational listen. A Crown hardcover.