In his latest book, Death, Resurrection, and the Spirit of New Orleans, Ken McCarthy ’81 tells the story of the city’s post-Katrina revitalization. Musicians were among the first to bring back the city’s famous spirit in the tragedy’s wake, he explains, and ultimately they played a vital role in the restoration. Professionally, McCarthy worked on early commercialization of web traffic, and he has been active in a number of causes, including the effort to rebuild New Orleans and supporting research into the treatment of neurological disorders. PAW asked McCarthy to recommend three more books about New Orleans, and he suggested these.
Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans
By Louis Armstrong
Most people know Louis Armstrong as a 20th-century entertainer who attained global name recognition at the level of stars like Charlie Chaplain. Jazz fans know that he is among the handful of musicians who can accurately be credited with creating the medium. As if that weren’t enough, he also radically changed popular singing in America and counted Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald as disciples. This memoir of the first 20 years of his life, which he spent in New Orleans, reveals yet another dimension of his attainments: He’s a fine writer.
Words Whispered in Water
By Sandy Rosenthal*
In 2005, New Orleans suffered the worst peacetime catastrophe in American history and was nearly wiped off the map. News media and politicians blamed the disaster on Katrina. Rosenthal discovered otherwise and over the last 18 years has compelled outlets like The New York Times, the BBC, and most recently the Associated Press to stop reprinting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers press releases and report the truth: It was the biggest engineering failure in American history.
[*Rosenthal founded the advocacy group Levees.org, for which McCarthy is a communications strategist.]
City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300
By Jason Berry
Trying to cover the last 300 years of New Orleans’ history in a single volume is an impossible task, but if anyone is up to taking a shot it’s Berry. One of the most intrepid investigative journalists of the 20th century (Vow of Silence, Lead Us Not into Temptation) turned profound cultural historian (The Spirit of Black Hawk, Up from the Cradle of Jazz), he turns the eyepiece on the kaleidoscope that is New Orleans and gives outsiders an authentic look in.