Tom Nawrocki

  • The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square

    New Orleans has always been the most polyglot of American cities, with streets and landmarks named in a multitude of tongues (and even a little English); it is a place where stolid religiosity stands cheek by jowl with high lasciviousness. Ned Sublette’s latest book, The World That Made New Orleans, is a journey through the early days of the city—back to before it even was one—and an examination of the influence of each culture that successively dropped its wares on the Big Easy.

    The first settlement at what is now New Orleans was a campsite established on the east bank of the Mississippi by

  • Ain't That a Shame

    The true pleasure of reading any book on rock ’n’ roll comes less in the descriptions of the music—I’ve long felt that rock bios need to be packaged with a CD, to reinforce or introduce the aural ideas presented—than in the personal excesses, the wantonness, the luxury and degradation, for lack of a better phrase. The gold standard of the genre, Peter Guralnick’s magisterial two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis (1994) and Careless Love (1999), fairly wallows in Presley’s enthusiasms for things that aren’t healthy or kind, like a steady stream of amphetamines, and his

  • One Hit, Two Errors

    Bart Giamatti's first book, an adaptation of his dissertation titled The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic (1966), examined the garden in literature as a symbol of respite and beauty. After his tumultuous and ultimately disappointing reign as president of Yale from 1978 to 1986, Giamatti must have felt that he'd found his own Eden when he ascended to baseball's commissionership, with an opportunity to lead America's most pastoral and literary sport. Instead, what he got was a faceful of Pete Rose.

    Giamatti's baseball career was in a sense a microcosm of his Yale years. A spellbinding