ISBN: 1-59228-901-0

The Lyons Press

304 pages, Hard Cover

Tom Smith’s latest book transports the reader back to the late 1800’s. The action takes place in New Orleans. This book is a factual account of 3 separate and yet related violent events.

New Orleans in the 1890’s was very different from the Big Easy that we know today. Corrupt politicians and Policeman were the norm, lawlessness was the law!

Although this is a factual accounting of the events, Tom has written the book more like a novel than a historical account. This makes for a very entertaining read. The characters are well crafted, and the dialog is cleverly pieced together from historical documentation.

The book opens with the violent death of Chief Hennessy, the head of the New Orleans police force. He is gunned down while walking home. Before he dies he utters the word “Italians” when asked “who did this”?

New Orleans in the 1890’s was a very polarized city. Each ethnic group distrusting the other, Blacks, Whites, Irish, and Italian, all harbored grudges for perceived injustices. In many cases the grudges were well founded.

Chief Hennessy’s brutal murder starts an unfortunate and very deadly sequence of events. The New Orleans police need to find a culprit, and based on Chief Hennessy’s dieing words, proceeds to terrorize the Italian population.

Being Italian, or even worse Sicilian, becomes a very dangerous minority to belong to. Of course they are not as pure as the driven snow, some belong to very shady organizations linked to the mafia. Unfortunately many innocent Italians are swept up in the fervor to find the killer. And many find themselves spending less than quality time in the Parish Prison.

The Crescent City Lynchings, is a superb study in racial intolerance. It culminates in the unlawful lynching of 11 Italian immigrants. No due process, no trial by your peers, just a rope around your neck!

This is a very well written and researched book. The foreword of the book gives credit to some librarians in 1989, based on that fact, it is clear that Tom Smith has spent many years creating this wonderful book.  Although the subject may seem very niche, there is much that can be gained from reading it, and applying the lessons learned to today’s society.

Tom has agreed to an interview, and I am looking forward to finding out more about the dark and murky past of New Orleans. If you are a history buff, or just enjoy a really great book, I recommend that you pick up a copy of The Crescent City Lynchings.

The Crescent City Lynchings is available at finer bookstores or online through Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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