The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans
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The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  27 reviews
With a style the Los Angeles Times calls as “vivid and fast-moving as the music he loves,” Ned Sublette’s powerful new book drives the reader through the potholed, sinking streets of the United States’s least-typical city.



In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The World That Made New Orleans, Sublette’s award-winning history of the Crescent City’s colonial years, he traces a...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Monica
Jul 17, 2014 Monica added it
New Orleans is like no other city in the US.

I thought very highly of Sublette's other books CUBA AND IT'S MUSIC and THE WORLD THAT MADE NEW ORLEANS so therefore looked forward to reading his next work, THE YEAR BEFORE THE FLOOD. Like TWTMNO, it provides a 'hip and erudite' insight into the city and consequently the entire county. This work is a more personal accounting of his first hand experience during a fellowship in the city, describing crime, housing projects, music, second lines and every...more
Nicole
I was blown away by the exceptional candor, voice, and righteousness of Ned Sublette. I haven't gotten over the political and governmental response, or lack there of, to Hurricane Katrina. My opinion of my own government had never been so low. I love New Orleans; it's a place with so much soul, and the variety of music and culture has always captured my imagination. It seemed the Bush admins were less than interested in saving drowning citizens. After the false pretenses that the former presiden...more
Amar Pai
I have to admit I skipped ahead to the chapter on New Orleans rap & No Limit / Cash Money, and just read that. Good stuff! One of the best takes on bounce music and the history of New Orleans rap that I've seen. Nice to see someone writing seriously about this topic.

Baby raised all his talent in house-- for the Hot Boys he was their legal guardian AND the head of their label! Craze. I don't know if it's skeezy or evil or brilliant or all three at once.
The baby-faced Hot Boys were the same ag
...more
Monique
I loved the history of the music and the way the author weaves that history with the race relationship of the city and its history. The author and I are close in age and share the same political views which he isn't shy about expressing, so that is one of the reasons I found this book so interesting. This isn't really about the year before the flood in New Orleans, it's really an autobiography as well as a history of the music of New Orleans.
Alice
It's a very personal, roundabout, well-researched history/memoir of New Orleans. Like listening to a new friend tell you about some of the things he's known and learned in his life and why they're important to him. Fantastic and highly recommended.
Odessa Armstrong
I absolutely LOVE Ned Sublette. He is such an incredibly smooth historical writer. The Year Before the Flood is a more personal tale of his which is great, along with a wonderful history of New Orleans and its amazing culture.
Celeste
I'd give it more stars for the content, but it remains at three for rating as a whole. It's been slow going with this one, a long read, and I was finally able to finish it on my way back home on a plane. Great reading about New Orleans' history and music - and this guy really knows his music. I also really enjoyed reading about the history of Mardi Gras, and there are a few detailed chapters. It was fun to read about the author's personal experiences (most of the time), but I didn't really ident...more
Sarah
THis book has some small sections that I liked, like the history of WWOZ, NOLA's radio station. However, on the whole, I hated it. The guy moves to NOLA at the same time I did, and lives on the same block I did, and manages to earn my loathing. I don't know if it was just an age thing, since I moved there in my mid-20s and he was middle-aged, but we were both New Yorkers and you'd think I'd appreciate his perspective. Instead, he said things like "I found myself calling my wife Boo" and I wanted...more
edh
I'd give this a 3-star rating for personal enjoyment of the topic but a 5-star rating for being an essential historical document of the early 21st century. So a 4-star compromise it is.

Ned Sublette's dramatic crescendo of a book is the culmination of pre-flood NOLA history. His 10 month fellowship at Tulane was during the pregnant pause before Katrina, just prior to the "murdery summer" that gave birth to the fall of a city. If you're not into musicology and serious southern history, this book...more
Grace
I've read some other books about New Orleans, which I should have reviewed before I reviewed this to give more perspective, because they were better, or at least, I could relate to them more personally.I've never even been to New Orleans, but know people online from there, so this review is basically just my opinion.

While the author knows a LOT about New Orleans music and traditions, I never really felt like he connected that much with the city,despite living in Louisiana as a child (not the New...more
Leonie Starnawski
This book details a great deal of American history in order to explain the origins of the city of New Orleans and it’s many distinctive musical styles.

The purpose of all this is, of course, to celebrate and appreciate this world that was, but also to show what was lost and most shockingly why this didn’t matter (to the Bush Administration) when Hurricane Katrina rolled by – in fact, not even hitting New Orleans directly.

As colourful as a Mardi Gras parade itself, this book is a cacophony of so...more
Rose
Wonderful book that shows New Orleans in all its good and bad. Perfect evocation of the Pre-Katrina city.
Afie
I thought this book was interesting given the history of New Orleans and the author's perspective but the editor needed to help him condense his information and histories of music to a more streamlined outline. Way too much detail on things like the entire history of rap music which has very little to do with New Orleans, etc, in my opinion. Found myself skipping a lot to find the interesting parts. I'm waffling between a 2 star and a 3.
Katie
Well-researched and with some briefly interesting nuggets, but I wasn't that impressed with his writing and the book didn't feel cohesive at all. As he explains, he wrote the first sections pre-Katrina and then tacked on the last bit after Katrina, because he couldn't write about New Orleans without addressing it. An interesting time for him, certainly, but it just didn't feel like he had anything profound to say.
Karrie
loved loved this book
Lyn
I liked this much better than the author's previous work about NOLA - maybe it's because I identified with his love/hate relationship with NOLA. I really loved the way he weaved his personal story with what was going on with the music scene in NOLA at the time and then was able to bring it all together in reference to the aftermath of Katrina.
Jerrle Gericke
Very interesting. If you want a real sense of what New Orleans is like - culturally, historically, and more, this book is for you. I found the sections on the music particularly fascinating. There is also a good history of Mardi Gras. The author minces no words about the former administration's mishandling of the flodd.
Phil Overeem
This book is a stone-cold knockout. Not finished, but Sublette's aces on everything from music to economics to history to politics, with a serious edge on him. His chapters on New Orleans rap are REQUIRED READING for any serious hip hop fan.
Lee
Loved the history and musicians I knew. A bit too heavy on music trivia at times, but couldn't skip much because all of a sudden you'd read a real gem.
Mark
Abandoned. He needs a better editor.
Scott
This is the 2d New Orleans book by Sublette that I've read. Fascinating - he went everywhere we've been, heard all the musicians we've heard.
Teresa
Enjoyed the comparison between New York living and New Orleans living. As well as the cultural differences between the south and the north.
Linda
This was a good read. Authur seems angry. Rightfully so. Erin you and Devin and Billy would like this. Your Dad too.
Carol
Learned a lot of things about the city of New Orleans and its people who lived their.
Ed Skoog

Picture of me and Donald Harrison. I'm in my Mardi-Gramish Rumspringa mask.
Brittnee
okay for historical facts. dry read.
Ellen
i must have slept through the 50-60, not everyone lived in a white bread world. Very painful to read on so many levels, yet something everyone should read it.
Chris
Chris added it
Sep 02, 2014
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Ned Sublette is a critically acclaimed writer, historian, musician, and photographer. Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico, he lives in New York City with his wife, writer Constance Ash. He was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 20052006, and was previously a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. In 20042005 he was a...more
More about Ned Sublette...
The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo A Discography Of Hispanic Music In The Fine Arts Library Of The University Of New Mexico New Orleans: What Can't Be Lost: 88 Stories and Traditions from the Sacred City Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music

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