In the Shadow of Statues
"An extraordinarily powerful journey that is both political and personal...An important book for everyone in America to read." --Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs The New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate."There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence for it." When Mitch Landrieu addressed the people of New Orleans in May 2017 about his decision to take down four Confederate monuments, including the statue of Robert E. Lee, he struck a nerve nationally, and his speech has now been heard or seen by millions across the country. In his first book, Mayor Landrieu discusses his personal journey on race as well as the path he took to making the decision to remove the monuments, tackles the broader history of slavery, race and institutional inequities that still bedevil America, and traces his personal relationship to this history. His father, as state senator and mayor, was a huge force in the integration of New Orleans in the 1960s and 19070s. Landrieu grew up with a progressive education in one of the nation's most racially divided cities, but even he had to relearn Southern history as it really happened.Equal parts unblinking memoir, history, and prescription for finally confronting America's most painful legacy, In the Shadow of Statues will contribute strongly to the national conversation about race in the age of Donald Trump, at a time when racism is resurgent with seemingly tacit approval from the highest levels of government and when too many Americans have a misplaced nostalgia for a time and place that never existed.

In the Shadow of Statues Details

TitleIn the Shadow of Statues
Author
ReleaseMar 20th, 2018
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780525559443
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Politics, Biography, Historical, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography Memoir

In the Shadow of Statues Review

  • Stuart Rodriguez
    January 1, 1970
    There’s a lot to like about this book. Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, gives, I think, an honest and down-to-earth account of his life, from his youth growing up in New Orleans, to his early tangles in state legislature with neo-Nazi David Duke, to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and finally, to the removal of the four Confederate monuments from New Orleans in 2017. I appreciated that Landrieu’s recollections felt clear-eyed, and he doesn’t mince words—he is vocal in his admonition of There’s a lot to like about this book. Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, gives, I think, an honest and down-to-earth account of his life, from his youth growing up in New Orleans, to his early tangles in state legislature with neo-Nazi David Duke, to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and finally, to the removal of the four Confederate monuments from New Orleans in 2017. I appreciated that Landrieu’s recollections felt clear-eyed, and he doesn’t mince words—he is vocal in his admonition of the racist themes that engendered white people’s support in-state of David Duke (and, more broadly, white support of Donald Trump), and does not equivocate about the cause of the Civil War (slavery), and about white supremacist power dynamics at play with regards to the Confederate monuments his administration finally removed. The themes he discusses won’t at all be news to a lot people, but the topics he discusses are, I think, a good learning opportunity for many other white folks, and that’s where this book is at its best.Otherwise, Landrieu spends a lot of time discussing his life growing up, his family, and leadership qualifications. I take these aspects of the book with a grain of salt because they feel like the prelude to a run for higher office, but much of the book is about his response to Hurricane Katrina, and how he (and the city/state/federal government) responded to the crisis and what actions he took to rebuild the city. It really was fascinating to learn what goes into that kind of crisis management, and hey, I’ll be honest: it worked, and if/when Landrieu runs for higher office, I’ll be paying attention.I listened to the audiobook, and Landrieu did a very good job with his own narration. He comes across as an affable, approachable, down-to-earth guy, and this book is a breeze to listen to (it’s less than six hours long).
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    I'm trying to read up on possible Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential race. Mitch Landrieu, currently mayor of New Orleans and formerly Lt Governor of Louisiana, has been mentioned as a dark horse, lurking on the edges of the political landscape. Landrieu's new book, "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History", is a good look at three major issues that he has handled in his time in the two major offices he has held in Louisiana. Landrieu writes about his family - I'm trying to read up on possible Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential race. Mitch Landrieu, currently mayor of New Orleans and formerly Lt Governor of Louisiana, has been mentioned as a dark horse, lurking on the edges of the political landscape. Landrieu's new book, "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History", is a good look at three major issues that he has handled in his time in the two major offices he has held in Louisiana. Landrieu writes about his family - his father Moon was for many years mayor of New Orleans - and his liberal upbringing. Born in 1960 - one of nine children to Moon and Vera Landrieu - Mitch went to Catholic schools and colleges and eventually became a lawyer, like his father. He entered politics on a state legislative level and ran for and won higher state offices. As Lt Governor under Kathleen Blanco, he participated in the cleanup of the Katrina hurricane in 2005. He names names on the people he felt were not helpful - Mayor Ray Nagin - is held up as basically worthless. Katrina is the first of the three issues Landrieu writes about in depth; the other two are the Confederate Monuments and the problems in the black area of New Orleans. Okay, the thing you can ask is "how honest is Mitch Landrieu?" I don't know but these pre-election books are never, and I mean NEVER, written with anything other than self-aggrandizement. The time for complete honesty in a political memoir comes, if it does come at all, in a final memoir after a politician has left public life. Mitch Landrieu's book is an interesting look at the life of a white Southern liberal politician. He's a good writer and I think he was probably as honest as he could be. Will we see him in national office? Beats me...
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  • Ernest Farmer
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most encouraging books I have read! The mayor's honesty and commitment to justice and equality as a public servant is not only refreshing, but it is inspiring. The Trump administration , Republican Congress and Senate are a shameful disgrace by comparison. Mitch Landrieu for president 2020! Ernest Farmer.e te Awesome and courageous , a must read for K = 12History Thank you mayor for your courage and actions E, farmer
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  • Jason Park
    January 1, 1970
    An honorable memoir in many ways that still fails in its execution. My full review: https://medium.com/@jpark_21/in-the-s...
  • Lit Folio
    January 1, 1970
    It's hard for me not to have issues with Landrieu's book--spawned most likely out of the attention he received via The New York Times last spring after these statues were taken down. I know about New Orleans culture because I had spent a good many years living there--studying and then teaching and though there are truths here, it is all slanted to fit this polemic on the wrongs of the Civil War and its implication of pro-slavery. The Civil War is far too complex for such a simplification. Read S It's hard for me not to have issues with Landrieu's book--spawned most likely out of the attention he received via The New York Times last spring after these statues were taken down. I know about New Orleans culture because I had spent a good many years living there--studying and then teaching and though there are truths here, it is all slanted to fit this polemic on the wrongs of the Civil War and its implication of pro-slavery. The Civil War is far too complex for such a simplification. Read Shelby Foote--better yet watch the entire Ken Burns' series done over a quarter of a century ago and you certainly get a better view of its complexity--which I can't go into here except to say some pertinent facts: 98 percent of whites in the South were poor. They were lucky to own a shack, a cow or two and some chickens. That is a fact. The Plantation owners were the CEOs of their time--the USA profited heavily from the riches of the agrarian South, thus their point in wanting to secede from the Union--How dare they? was their cry. Well, the ones who picked up rifles were the poor whites--boys, really--and hundreds of thousands were killed. Southerners even today well know they bitterly lost that war. Actually, the South never really got over it. And it was basic citizen pride to erect statues of the generals and such that represented a sad and bitter defeat and the fact that thousands of young boys and men died for such a cause, futile as it was. Abstract Expressionism came into the general culture in the 1920's or so--what you have with the Vietnam War Memorial is due to this artistic movement. It would be hard to take down that monument due to the list of names of the soldiers who died in a futile and falsely generated (we now know) war, perpetuated by several presidencies. The generals on horseback and such, so sedulously crafted (and you will never see such mastery in iron-works sculpture of this kind again, I'm afraid) , were to represent those soldiers who had died. It was a way to do so by honoring the generals of whom they served.Landrieu seems to think these statues are about pro-slavery. Again, 98 percent of the white population were basically poor and could never own something like a slave. (And there is also truth that the French-speaking refugee blacks from Haiti, given asylum in New Orleans in he late 1700's--becoming successful entrepreneurs themselves, actually-- acquired African slaves). The other issues with this read have to do with all of the problems that have plagued New Orleans for years. While reading, I couldn't help but think that Landrieu has hired a consultant to help him carve his way to better political positions once he leaves his Mayoral post. The statue removals (they are now stumps with graffiti scrawled all over) had no replacements--which would have been better. Why not have replacements with New Orleans artists and musicians? Which actually only indicates to this reader that Mitch is looking for attention and perhaps, political consultants advised he do something bold to get that national attention. Not so unlike what former Mayor Gavin Newsom did in San Francisco in 2004 by granting marriage licenses to gay couples, thus sparking a movement. I can only imagine Mitch licking his lips. Landrieu's truer intentions here could not be more obvious. This read is really all about his own ambitions, especially when he did not propose a better replacement for those statues--which a real leader would have done. I love New Orleans culture and there are many musicians and artists (most of them Black) who would have served as excellent, creative solutions to fill the void of broken concrete stumps with graffiti scrawled all over them. For shame.
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  • Shavon Jones
    January 1, 1970
    People are somehow reading this history book and getting distracted by the fact that the author is a politician. But let's not be so cynical that we overlook the issue of race solely because someone in the public square is raising it. A white politician is an ideal messenger for an historical account of race relations in the Deep South and the rest of the U.S. This is a book review of the content of Mayor Landrieu's message and the manner of his delivery. I love the fact that Landrieu chose to d People are somehow reading this history book and getting distracted by the fact that the author is a politician. But let's not be so cynical that we overlook the issue of race solely because someone in the public square is raising it. A white politician is an ideal messenger for an historical account of race relations in the Deep South and the rest of the U.S. This is a book review of the content of Mayor Landrieu's message and the manner of his delivery. I love the fact that Landrieu chose to deliver his take on the history of race in the form of a story about his childhood in New Orleans, the comparative experience of his black friends living there, and how time he spent attending college up North and traveling abroad to Holocaust sites informed his insights into both overt and subtle racism back home. Landrieu began his quest for understanding while investigating confederate statutes that had been erected on government property in New Orleans. Why were the statutes erected? Was it to celebrate the South's participation (and defeat) in the Civil War or was it to deny blacks the freedoms won through the Union's victory in the war? When were the statutes erected? Who erected them? Landrieu needed the answers to those questions in order to decide whether the statutes should remain. His quest for answers led him through 300 years of history dating to the founding of New Orleans as the major North American slave-trading post, the Civil War that ended official slavery, the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras of government-sanctioned unofficial slavery, the Civil Rights movement ending separate but (un)equal, the Post-Civil-Rights-new-Jim-Crow-mass-incarceration period (the elimination of which is only now gaining some political traction), and the modern day white supremacy movement and dog-whistle politics that resurfaced in earnest with the election of Obama and the birth of the Tea Party and its leader, Donald Trump.If Landrieu has a political motivation for the book, my take is that he wants to preserve or define his 30 year legacy in Louisiana politics. (In addition to being Mayor of New Orleans, he's served in the state legislature and as Lt. Governor.) That reputation has taken a hit within the white community because he took down the confederate monuments. He uses this book to explain why he did it and to educate his white counterparts about the true history of race. This lesson could not be delivered by Barack Obama or any other person whose skin is black because a black person would invariably be viewed as preaching to white folks about how they should feel. White folks have to get there on their own. And when they do, black folks must be forgiving so that we can heal as a nation and move forward together. So I hope readers will take this book for what it is. Don't gloss over the racial stuff and just classify the book as a political memoir. This is a history book and it's a race relations book written by someone on the front lines. It's assessable, well-written, and a must-read.
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  • Lorraine Israel
    January 1, 1970
    An inspiring book by a brave politician In this well written, fascinating account of Mitch Landrieu’s life and his work to rebuild the city of New Orleans , especially after the devastation in the wake of Katrina, he leaves us with his legacy for his beautiful city- hope in place of despair, morality in place of shame.This story is a message not only for Americans, but relevant to many cities and countries , including my own, where history is not yet being used for an inclusive future for all ci An inspiring book by a brave politician In this well written, fascinating account of Mitch Landrieu’s life and his work to rebuild the city of New Orleans , especially after the devastation in the wake of Katrina, he leaves us with his legacy for his beautiful city- hope in place of despair, morality in place of shame.This story is a message not only for Americans, but relevant to many cities and countries , including my own, where history is not yet being used for an inclusive future for all citizens.I hope that Mitch Landrieu will find his place among the national leaders of the American people, as his achievements on the local level can be an inspiration for creating a better future for all. - Ilan Israel.
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  • John Deardurff
    January 1, 1970
    Mitch Landrieu is the Mayor of New Orleans and a potential 2020 Democratic Presidental candidate. I primarily picked up the book because of my interest in the Civil War statues in New Orleans. This is an issue that I actually lean to the right on because I am not a fan of removing history. I wanted to read the opinion of someone with an opposing viewpoint. What I ended up with was a fascinating tale of politics in one of America's more culturally rich cities. The devastation that was Katrina and Mitch Landrieu is the Mayor of New Orleans and a potential 2020 Democratic Presidental candidate. I primarily picked up the book because of my interest in the Civil War statues in New Orleans. This is an issue that I actually lean to the right on because I am not a fan of removing history. I wanted to read the opinion of someone with an opposing viewpoint. What I ended up with was a fascinating tale of politics in one of America's more culturally rich cities. The devastation that was Katrina and a thought-provoking look at racism in the United States.
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  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
  • Paul Womack
    January 1, 1970
    I think a fine and revealing memoir. I appreciated the historical context he provided on those statues. And, not a bad introduction for an aspiring candidate in 2020.
  • Amit Goldberg-ray
    January 1, 1970
    It takes great personal courage and true character to stand up to inequality and injustice. This is an example of exactly that. Bravo!
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