“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker— Reinventing the Traditional Atlas

unfathomable city

Solnit, Rebecca and Rebecca Snedeker. “Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas”, University of California Press, 2013.

Reinventing the Traditional Atlas

Amos Lassen

Being a native of New Orleans, I look for new books about my hometown. There is something that city that makes everyone who is born and raised there a New Orleanian forever, wherever he/she may live. New Orleans is a city with many faces and filled with contradictions which many saw as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

This book is a collection of twenty essays written by “geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city’s remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors’ compelling contributions”.  There are also 22 full color maps of the city. The book explores the various aspects of the city.  Through the maps and text we really get to know about the city and her culture.

Like the city, the topics covered here are diverse and I find there is a little about everything in the city and some “lagniappe” as well. (In case you are not familiar with that term, it means a little something extra).

“Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit’s Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas is a book about New Orleans, but it’s also a book about the kind of shared experiences and tensions that could exist in almost any city. Twenty-two maps illustrate ancient and recent histories of the Crescent City, with local tabs that inspire hums of pride. . . . Though many of those labels are specific to New Orleans, the themes they highlight exist in other places, making the book not only a local’s guide to the city, but also an anthropologist’s guide to the idea of metropolis.”  (Jeanie Riess Gambit 2013-11-01).


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