BOOK REVIEW: An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from
a1 1805 Pioneer Way, Shelton, WA 98584
Craig E. Colten. 2005. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA.
245 pp. $39.95 hardcover.
The history and geography of New Orleans, perhaps more than any other
American city, is inextricably entwined with the challenges presented by
the city's natural setting. In his unexpectedly timely book, An
Metropolis, author Craig E. Colten recounts this intricate
relationship and the human attempt to, in effect, hold nature at bay at
the mouth of the Mississippi. Although Colten covers a wide range of the
dilemmas faced by New Orleans' residents over the past 300 years
(many of which, such as sanitation and water delivery, were by no means
unique to New Orleans among nineteenth-century cities), in light of recent
events, most readers probably will be most interested in his account of
New Orleans' levee and drainage systems, and the shaping of the
city's modern-day racial and social geography.