Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

Empire of Sin focuses on New Orleans, 1890-1920. It's a compelling look at the politics, crime, and culture of the city. The mayhem starts with the killing of Police Chief Hennessy. The acquittal of the killers ignited mob violence that just astounded me. Around the same time, the vice-district Storyville was established. This era saw the birth of jazz, music that made some of the upper class in the city nervous. Jim Crow laws were established in the city, which, until this time, had been relatively tolerant of integration. We see New Orleans during WW 1 and prohibition. A lot happened in those years and the book is filled with names I was familiar with, especially the first generations of jazzmen. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but books like this make me wonder why not. The people in these pages are as fascinating, absurd, outrageous and inventive as any fictional characters. The things they do, from lynchings to shootouts to somehow keeping...
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Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake is not a book I would usually pick up. I don't tend to read much non-fiction and I actively avoid war books, but I've enjoyed Larson's books in the past and his "narrative non-fiction" style works for me. He tells the story with a personal touch, not just a recitation of facts. This one is pretty fascinating, the boat itself, the people on board, and all the events in the outer world that conspired against them. I listened to this one on audio and Brick did a good job. He kept me interested, made it exciting and tension-filled. There were a lot of people, but it's non-fiction, so there wasn't really any dialogue to worry about. The individuals were heard through their journals and letter, which doesn't require any distinction voices. There are a lot of people involved in the story of the Lusitania, from the captain, crew and passengers, government officials on both sides of the Atlantic,  to the...
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