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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 abo 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.


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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 abo 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.

30 review for In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shavon

    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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    From the courageous former mayor of New Orleans who suffered scathing attacks and physical threats for removing the Confederate statues in the city, an admirable and frank memoir that is quite uneven in the telling. I wish he'd hired a professional to help him write it. Plus, it lacked that deeper reflection I have read in similar quasi-memoirs..

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    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).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    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...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    A brief book commissioned by a mayor (there is no way he wrote this) who was vaulted to moderate political stardom for defeating inanimate objects. The truth is under Landrieu New Orleans has rapidly gentrified, with its black population declining and forced to the West Bank. The culture is actively diluted as residents are forced out by AirBNB. I live across from the Faubourg Treme, birthplace of Jazz and America's oldest integrated neighborhood. Beauregard of statue fame once lived there. It i A brief book commissioned by a mayor (there is no way he wrote this) who was vaulted to moderate political stardom for defeating inanimate objects. The truth is under Landrieu New Orleans has rapidly gentrified, with its black population declining and forced to the West Bank. The culture is actively diluted as residents are forced out by AirBNB. I live across from the Faubourg Treme, birthplace of Jazz and America's oldest integrated neighborhood. Beauregard of statue fame once lived there. It is becoming a vast AirBNB. The same has already happened to the Fauboroug Marigny, home of Jelly Roll Morton and once the haunt of artists and weirdos. In the 1980s Tom Waits felt at home in that part of town. Now, it is just tourist attraction number 2. The actual mechanics of racial and class inequalities have only accelerated in his term. So too did crime, while the city suffered two major floods last year because the government failed to maintain the pumping stations. The city's population is declining, and in the last two years half of my friends moved away; they could no longer afford it. For the first time since 2005 we are losing residents. This is neo-liberalism in its most classic form. Hard left on minor cultural issues, but to the right of Reagan when it comes time for hard policy. The worst part of this book is his discussion of rebuilding New Orleans after Katrinia. What he means is gentrification, and removing a statue of Jefferson Davis is part of gentrification as much as anything. It is the removal of the unpleasant. In that way, black people and Davis have finally found a common thread in the disneyification of New Orleans. Regardless of how one feels about the statues, whether together or separately, there was no plan for what to do with them. Appeals to compromise were tossed aside and buried in the loud left rhetoric that failed to concede that some people had perfectly reasonable reasons to keep a statue of Lee or particularly Beauregard around. Or at least that said statues should be taken down with some nod to the good things both men did. They were taken down in a way that will certainly make the left applaud, but struck others as heavy-handed and arrogant. What's worse is it was done by a man who okayed the demolition of the Canal Street Woolworth's, site of one of the major Civil Rights protests of the 1960s. In its place there were going to be condos for the wealthy. Now it appears it will be a Hard Cafe Hotel. This is the true legacy of Landrieu. This book is a lot of posturing by a man eager to claim credit on statues, which he never mentioned before July 2015 and did not care much about in 2016. Until his speech, he was very detached from the whole process. He has been detached since they came down unless it involves his upcoming failed presidential run. Sadly, many who do not live here only see the vapid praise in the media, utterly lacking in critical assessments. Call it the Fox News effect, but as of late only a fool would pretend the various media outlets are not biased. We are going back to the days when newspapers had such honest titles as The Times-Democrat and Richmond Whig. So Landrieu is praised for a relatively minor victory in a city that has the highest violent death rate per capita. Journalism is dying and the wounds are self-inflicted. Any journalist worth their salt would ask him some hard questions, but they approve what he is doing so he gets a pass. We do not have sympathy for things we deem outside the moral pale. It is what connects us to the past, our appetite for conformity and our love of shame and superiority. We merely switch around those we decide to ostracize. However, if I compare Landrieu's speech to the feelings of Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, I am struck by Grant's eloquence and caring, as compared to Landrieu's simplified and Manichean vision of history. I leave you with Grant's words, because they are far better than my words, Landrieu's words, and the words of his ghost-writer. "What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    If you are following or taking part in the debate over the Confederate Statues, this book is a must read. Landrieu not only provides some autobiographic details, but he also removed the statues in New Orleans. His story about how he reached that decision and how he learned the history of the statues as well how they are seen by people of color.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    This book was too much like a political campaign ad for my taste.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeri Rowe

    I grew up in the cradle of the Civil War, a city where Fort Sumter is part of who we are -- and always will be. I'm from Charleston., S.C. Do love that city with all its flaws. When I was young, my family attended a church downtown that had a gym right across from the slave market. I always walked through that place because it was a like a maze for me. It stretched for a few blocks, had a concrete floor, a low roof and oppressively hot in the summer even with it open to the street on both sides. I grew up in the cradle of the Civil War, a city where Fort Sumter is part of who we are -- and always will be. I'm from Charleston., S.C. Do love that city with all its flaws. When I was young, my family attended a church downtown that had a gym right across from the slave market. I always walked through that place because it was a like a maze for me. It stretched for a few blocks, had a concrete floor, a low roof and oppressively hot in the summer even with it open to the street on both sides. It had this open-air feel of a barn. I'd grab ice cream, check out what trinkets were for sale and always see black women sell these beautiful woven baskets. Very innocent, very Southern. And yet ... I never really contemplated how hundreds of Africans were sold like cattle in that very place. My family never really talked about it. But I figured that was all behind us. The past is the past, I thought. But like Faulkner, I've come to believe the past is never really the past. I've now reached my fifth decade, and as a journalist who has written about race and racism over the past three decades, I realized long ago that our country needs to deal with race and racism or we will never move forward as a nation. So, I viewed Mitch Landrieu's book as a vital read. I saw him as a brother in arms. He's a few years older than me, and like me, Landrieu believes that we have to ask ourselves tough questions, start tough conversations and make tough decisions -- like taking down four Confederate statues in New Orleans. Landrieu did just that in his last term as New Orleans' mayor. Remember his speech? That ... was killer. In his memoir, you see how he wrestles with that decision, and I believe Landrieu delivers a sermon for our times. It's one we all need to read. People have -- and some have lambasted Landrieu for what he wrote. I've read a handful of reviews of "In The Shadow," and I've seen him described as everything from an opportunistic politician to a wanna-be writer who employs poor syntax. I chalk that up to the subject he's addressing. It's like juggling dynamite. A discussion of race is the most emotionally explosive issue of our time -- and I believe it always will be. He writes: "To move forward, we must find that new space on race here, a zone of belief that holds promise for a nation committed to justice for all of our people, making right what we have failed to do, and insisting that we will do what it takes to reach the next threshold for humankind. "We find that new space, in politics and society, if we confirm our belief in democracy as a welcome table for people created equal under God, where the pursuit of equity is an open field for opportunity and responsibility. "As the scientists continually course-correct a mission error in order to make the next flight safer, so we must learn to revised the mistakes in our perceptions of history, to acknowledge with honesty what we went wrong so that we can learn how to make it right. "We are all being called to a better day, a better South, a better America. I have great faith that we will respond well to that call. now is the time to choose our path forward." Do love that line about a "better South." So believe that. Now, I wish Landrieu's book was more nuanced. I mean, I want to see him wrestle more internally with this. But what he addresses is huge and how he addresses it works for me. And as a white Southerner who wrestled with his region's own history, I see where he's coming from. And I am listening.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Part memoir, part, political history, and part expose on race relations in Louisiana. I loved hearing Mitch Landrieu's side of the story about the controversial decision to take down the confederate monuments in New Orleans. Having lived in Louisiana (as an out of stater, better able to objectively view the social and political landscapes that shape the state), I understand how important those statues were to the identity of the city and empathize with the struggle he went through as Mayor. Indu Part memoir, part, political history, and part expose on race relations in Louisiana. I loved hearing Mitch Landrieu's side of the story about the controversial decision to take down the confederate monuments in New Orleans. Having lived in Louisiana (as an out of stater, better able to objectively view the social and political landscapes that shape the state), I understand how important those statues were to the identity of the city and empathize with the struggle he went through as Mayor. Inducing change in a largely change resistant environment is hard. Understanding the backstory about why he felt compelled to take on such a momentous task puts the whole ordeal into perspective. I have a lot of respect for his determination and the moral foundation that drove his actions. Thankfully, a lot of what he talked about in the book really wasn't all that related to this one anecdote of "a white southerner confronting history", but rather how we got to this controversy in the first place. Understanding the REAL story behind the civil war and going beyond what is taught in the evangelical private education institutions that the majority of Louisianians rely on for their grade school educations is extremely important. Though I doubt most of them will read this book (most hated Landrieu for reasons explained in the book), just talking about the disparity brings light to lack. I was also glad he touched on the horrendous education system in Louisiana (currently ranked #50 as of 2018) and how it perpetuates segregation, and race driven disparities in income, education, social mobility, and learned mindsets. Some of his spouted ideals and subsequent actions came across as contradictory to me, but then again Louisiana is known for being a pretty backward-ass state across the board, so maybe it makes sense in the context of the environment.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    One can’t help but wonder if this book will be a launching pad to the presidency as Obama’s “Dreams of My Father” was. It’s sincere and passionate. Mitch comes off as the next Bill Clinton but without the sleaze. He tells his life story as well as the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. If you read the acknowledgments at the end of the book you might question how much of the book he actually wrote with thanks to speech writers and journalists. However, if you have seen him on television speaking about One can’t help but wonder if this book will be a launching pad to the presidency as Obama’s “Dreams of My Father” was. It’s sincere and passionate. Mitch comes off as the next Bill Clinton but without the sleaze. He tells his life story as well as the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. If you read the acknowledgments at the end of the book you might question how much of the book he actually wrote with thanks to speech writers and journalists. However, if you have seen him on television speaking about this book you would know it’s all his work. He is an engaging speaker who leaves you with hope for the future. Yes, what’s next for Mitch?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan Iannaccone

    Perfect Extremely well written, scholarly and with heart. Love this book about a city I love. Couldn’t have come at a better time.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    This book is memoir from the mayor of New Orleans and his role in taking down a series of statues honoring Confederate figures in the city and igniting a controversy that sparked intensive debate across the nation. The work starts as an autobiography of a Louisiana politician, whose experience with race started early on, as his father was mayor of New Orleans at the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As he moves through life, Landrieu discusses how he always seems to come back to This book is memoir from the mayor of New Orleans and his role in taking down a series of statues honoring Confederate figures in the city and igniting a controversy that sparked intensive debate across the nation. The work starts as an autobiography of a Louisiana politician, whose experience with race started early on, as his father was mayor of New Orleans at the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As he moves through life, Landrieu discusses how he always seems to come back to dealing with issues of race and how government can and should help resolve the racial divide in America. In his times in Louisiana politics, Landrieu notes how Louisiana had many different individuals with very different agendas on race. Many politicians worked to try to improve race relations, but just as many didn't. Landrieu spends a great deal of time recounting the shocking rise of former Klansman and noted white nationalist David Duke into a position of power in the Louisiana Senate. He takes great pains to note that Duke's rise in the late 1980s/early 1990s mirrored the rise of Donald Trump from 2015-2017. All during his time as the Lieutenant Governor and Mayor, Landrieu always faces the specter of racial divisions. It is towards the end of his time as mayor that Landrieu faces the issue of a series of Confederate statues in the city, and how, at the request of a friend Wynton Marsalis, Landrieu decided to remove the statues. He covers the history of those statues, and notes the difficulties he had trying to get them removed. Eventually, they were, but it divided the city and cost him some support. It is a timely and engagement memoir. It can be a little self-serving, especially the parts discussing how he did such as wonderful job post-Katrina (perhaps the city was not as great a paradise as he made it seem, even when he discusses the gun violence). Still, he covers the key aspects of the history of the city, the statues and the reasons why they were put up and why they had to come down. You may not agree with the reasons, but you can't fault the logic, and he presents a good case for why he did what he did. It is always a bonus when the author reads his or her own work, and that is the case here. Definitely worth the read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Landrieu, resident of New Orleans, Catholic, Democrat, and politician, weaves the story of his life and his city. Touching on the War on Poverty, David Duke, Hurricane Katrina, and the removal of Lost Cause statues, Landrieu reflects on what New Orleans is, was and could be. Why I started this book: I was eager to read about the statues being taken down... and while Landrieu teases it in the beginning, he saves it for his grand finale. Why I finished it: This was more of a biography than I was ex Landrieu, resident of New Orleans, Catholic, Democrat, and politician, weaves the story of his life and his city. Touching on the War on Poverty, David Duke, Hurricane Katrina, and the removal of Lost Cause statues, Landrieu reflects on what New Orleans is, was and could be. Why I started this book: I was eager to read about the statues being taken down... and while Landrieu teases it in the beginning, he saves it for his grand finale. Why I finished it: This was more of a biography than I was expecting and at times felt like his introduction to the nation for further political office, but it was also a love letter to New Orleans and reminder that the past is never over, and NEVER one-sided. I can only hope that it sparks more conversations about the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and Confederate statues. We all need more light, more thoughtful consideration, and the desire to be better.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Duncan

    Mitch Landrieu, potentially a rising Democratic star, has taken his first real step toward a national run. This book, while commenting on his battle with New Orleans’ Confederate statues really shines as a look at his form of governing. Mr. Landrieu provides a hopeful message for all Americans and a positive way to look at how local and federal government can assist the most vulnerable around our great nation. While choppy and disconnected at times I couldn’t put it down and would recommend this Mitch Landrieu, potentially a rising Democratic star, has taken his first real step toward a national run. This book, while commenting on his battle with New Orleans’ Confederate statues really shines as a look at his form of governing. Mr. Landrieu provides a hopeful message for all Americans and a positive way to look at how local and federal government can assist the most vulnerable around our great nation. While choppy and disconnected at times I couldn’t put it down and would recommend this to anyone who needs to hear a positive message about American values in this time of cynicism.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cateline

    The evolution of Mr. Landrieu’s thoughts on the statues and their cumulative effect on society is really a journey of discovery. It is one that all Americans would profit from, I believe. Being a white Southerner of a certain age myself, I’d not given much thought to the presence of the Civil War statues, or their reason(s) for being. I merely thought of them as having been there all my life, and took their presence for granted. I didn’t realize the true reasoning behind their installation. When The evolution of Mr. Landrieu’s thoughts on the statues and their cumulative effect on society is really a journey of discovery. It is one that all Americans would profit from, I believe. Being a white Southerner of a certain age myself, I’d not given much thought to the presence of the Civil War statues, or their reason(s) for being. I merely thought of them as having been there all my life, and took their presence for granted. I didn’t realize the true reasoning behind their installation. When the talk of their being taken down began I thought it disrespectful of the dead. But the truth is that we need to think about the living and their feelings. When Landrieu mentioned his black friends reaction to the statue of Beauregard, it really hit home. He details the plethora of problems his administration faced in the actual, physical removal. While I’d read in the newspaper at the time of some of them, I was appalled at the lengths Landrieu wrote of that some went to to stop the removal. The measures used against would be contractors was not only unlawful, but terrible in its violence. That very violence negated any arguments those people may have had. Some reviews take Landrieu to task for telling of his own background and his families, but it was all so familiar to me, I enjoyed reading all of it. Recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    It's important to understand WHY we think and feel the way we do. Current events led me to reexamine my own beliefs and to then do a 180 turn regarding the Confederacy and the Civil War. My great great grandfather fought for the South, and I was raised to be proud of him and to honor Lee, Stonewall, Beauregard, etc. I now know that he and they were on the wrong side of history and they were wrong. Landrieu helped me come to terms with several issues that Americans are facing in our quest for a b It's important to understand WHY we think and feel the way we do. Current events led me to reexamine my own beliefs and to then do a 180 turn regarding the Confederacy and the Civil War. My great great grandfather fought for the South, and I was raised to be proud of him and to honor Lee, Stonewall, Beauregard, etc. I now know that he and they were on the wrong side of history and they were wrong. Landrieu helped me come to terms with several issues that Americans are facing in our quest for a better America in which ALL our citizens are treated equally. We've visited New Orleans several times, as there's no other place on earth like it. I must agree with Landrieu that statues honoring white supremacy have no place in that special city (or in any other public place in America). When one learns all the facts, it's really a no brainer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Things I learned and understand better because of this book: 1. Schools in southern states teach that the "war between the states" was fought for state's rights and had nothing to do with slavery. I have friends from the south who whole-heartedly believe this and will not listen to any discussion about the Civil War being about slavery. I've always been so confused about that; now I know why. 2. The cult of the Lost Cause. This is an organization started by wealthy white southerners around the tur Things I learned and understand better because of this book: 1. Schools in southern states teach that the "war between the states" was fought for state's rights and had nothing to do with slavery. I have friends from the south who whole-heartedly believe this and will not listen to any discussion about the Civil War being about slavery. I've always been so confused about that; now I know why. 2. The cult of the Lost Cause. This is an organization started by wealthy white southerners around the turn of the last century to improve the reputation of the American South. Usually the winners write the history, but not in this case. They raised monuments and created a whitewashed history they could be proud of. If this doesn't seen real, look it up. All the sources are there. 3. Many of the African Americans living in New Orleans felt these statues were a symbol of their oppression. I never thought of that. Oops. If I had made the effort to mentally walk in their shoes, that might have occurred to me. 4. Interesting to hear first hand about Katrina and the long recovery--although that part of the book went on a little long for me. He loves his hometown, and I understand better why people are willing to sacrifice in order to return to it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    The story of how Mitch Landrieu the mayor of New Orleans came to realization and conviction that four Civil War monuments commemorating the Confederacy should be taken down. The evolution to this end came from family experiences ,the perspectives of African American friends, a Jesuit education and finally a reexamination of History. What became for him the right move caused a firestorm as racism reared it's ugly head. An enlightening look at how race is the dark shadow cast over American life. 4 The story of how Mitch Landrieu the mayor of New Orleans came to realization and conviction that four Civil War monuments commemorating the Confederacy should be taken down. The evolution to this end came from family experiences ,the perspectives of African American friends, a Jesuit education and finally a reexamination of History. What became for him the right move caused a firestorm as racism reared it's ugly head. An enlightening look at how race is the dark shadow cast over American life. 4 1/2 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    TPK

    Required reading for anyone who still believes, in the 21st century, that the Civil War was fought over "states' rights" or that removing Confederate monuments means "forgetting history."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harley

    Mitch Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. His memoir, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, was published in 2018. I recently learned of the book when a radio talk show host mentioned it on air. Landrieu's claim to fame is that he removed the Confederate statues in New Orleans a couple of years before destroying statues became international news in 2020. Mitch's father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978 and Mitch grew up in a home Mitch Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. His memoir, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, was published in 2018. I recently learned of the book when a radio talk show host mentioned it on air. Landrieu's claim to fame is that he removed the Confederate statues in New Orleans a couple of years before destroying statues became international news in 2020. Mitch's father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978 and Mitch grew up in a home where public service was a key part of life. Born in 1960, Mitch tells the story of having his life threatened at the age of 13 because white people did not like his father because his pro-civil rights policies. New Orleans was 60% white when Moon was mayor and forty years later when Mitch became mayor it was 60% black. Mitch is the fifth of nine children, 5 girls and 4 boys. Mary, the oldest, was a United States senator for 18 years. Madeleine was a judge and dean of a law school. Maurice, the youngest, is an assistant U.S. attorney in New Orleans. Mitch had dreams of being an actor from the time he saw the movie Oliver. He had roles in several plays in high school including Man of La Mancha, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Scapino and Jesus Christ Superstar.  Mitch graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where he attended on scholarship. He had a double major in theater and political science. During his junior year he tried out for the USO and was accepted. He traveled abroad entertaining the troops. In Europe he had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz. He writes: "I was barely twenty when I visited Auschwitz. I clearly remember the suitcases stacked high bearing the names of people gassed to death, men and women and children who never knew their meager belongings would one day signify their lives. The mounds of hair, hairbrushes, false teeth, prosthetics, the stacks of eye glasses, they carried a moral weight heavier than anything I had ever felt." Mitch goes on to draw a comparison between the evil committed by the Nazis and the evil of slavery. He writes: "The systemic evil of Nazism was the closest thing to the Southern society that relied on slave labor. I was torn by the connection between these two realities of history, different in time and place, but with common root, a warped sense that some people are superior to others…." "Auschwitz laid a foundation, a building block, in my mind, not only for how evil humans can be to one another, but also for how we can reckon with and learn from our past so as to not repeat the same mistakes in the future." After graduating from Catholic University, Mitch attended law school at Loyola University in New Orleans where he met his future wife, Cheryl Quirk.  In 1987 at the age of 27, Mitch decided to run for the state legislature for the same seat that both his father and his sister had held. He spent 16 years in the Louisiana state legislature. In 2003, Mitch ran for the lieutenant governor's seat and won with 53% of the vote. The lieutenant governor in Louisiana manages the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.  When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Mitch was in the thick of it, helping to rescue people. In the book he discusses the issues and challenges that city and state leaders faced with eighty percent of the city was under water. Katrina destroyed 110 out of 127 schools. Mitch describes Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, as not being prepared to lead. Nagin was a cable company executive who had no experience in governing a city or in managing a crisis like Katrina. Mitch writes: "Government is not a business and the idea of 'running government as a business,' while a great line for TV spots, does not work as a political reality. Businesses function to earn profit; cities are governed to deliver public services, maintain infrastructure, and help businesses…." In 2006 Mitch ran against Nagin for mayor of New Orleans and lost. In 2007 he was re-elected to his position as lieutenant governor. In 2010, Mitch again ran for mayor of New Orleans and won 66% of the vote. He lost only one of nearly 400 precincts. Nagin had left the city government in disarray. When Mitch took over in May 2010, the recovery from Katrina had stalled, the city was on the brink of bankruptcy and four city agencies were under federal management oversight because of poor performance. There was budget deficit of $97 million. Nagin had outsourced many jobs. The number of city employees had been cut from 6300 to about 4000. Mitch writes about his vision for New Orleans: "I was determined not just to build back the city that was, but to rebuild a stronger, more resilient city for the future." At the beginning of Mitch's second term, the city had turned around. He writes: "By 2015, ten years after the storm, New Orleans had the reputation as a cutting-edge leader in how to rebuild stronger and smarter. The city was growing. We'd turned around the city finances. We had been a declining city before the storm, we now had a future that was brighter." A survey of the residents of New Orleans by the Kaiser Family Foundation and NPR in 2015 found that 78% of the residents were optimistic about the future of the city. Despite all the success in turning the city around, Mitch also discusses some of the challenges the city still faces. Big on his list of failures is the gun violence that erupts throughout the city. He writes that the hardest day of his eight years as mayor was the day that five-year-old Briana Allen was shot and killed. She was hit by a bullet from an AK-47 while attending a birthday party for her cousin. The bullet was intended for her father, Burnell. Five people were hit and two died. He says: "I am haunted by the lives we could not save….I had no power to stop the flow of guns; the criminal justice system can only arrest and incarcerate the worst offenders….We have so much more work to do. I firmly believe that this is a solvable problem if we treat gun violence as both a public safety issue and a public health crisis." A couple of pages later he writes: "Murder and violence are the poisonous fruit grown from the soil of injustice, racism, and inequality-fertilized by guns, drugs, alcohol and disintegrated families. Hope fades, hate grows, people feel they have nothing to lose." After Mitch won reelection in 2014, he began to look ahead to 2018 when the city would celebrate its three-hundredth anniversary. He wanted to showcase the post-Katrina resurrection of the city. He talked with a number of people about his plans including Wynton Marsalis, the jazz musician. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz. Marsalis said he would help celebrate the anniversary, but requested that in return that Mitch take down the Robert E. Lee statue as well as other confederate statues. He explained that black people did not feel welcome in New Orleans and that many, like Louis Armstrong, had been leaving for years. New Orleans was founded by in the French in 1718. In the 1760's the Spanish took control of the city. In 1804 New Orleans became part of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Louisiana became a state in 1812. New Orleans was the largest slave market in the U.S. More than six million human beings were enslaved in the U.S. Many were beaten, raped and tortured. Six hundred fifteen thousand soldiers died in the war to free the slaves. In 1867–68 after the Civil War, the 40th U.S. Congress passed 4 laws defining what the defeated Southern states had to do in order to be readmitted to the Union. These bills became known as the Reconstruction acts. The bills were written by Radical Republicans, a powerful antislavery faction in congress. The Southern states were divided into five districts under military control. The states had to craft new constitutions and had to ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which granted citizenship and equal rights to former slaves. All the Southern states met the requirement and were readmitted to the Union by July 1870. Mitch writes: "In 1877, Reconstruction ended; federal troops left the occupied areas, and the defeated South unleashed a wave of terror against blacks while subjugating them to segregated schools and inferior public education without the right to vote." While the South ended the war defeated, the white southern leaders chose to reframe the narrative. The Southern soldiers were heroes who fought for a Noble Cause and lost. City leaders began erecting statues to these heroes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center more than 700 Confederate statues and monuments were erected throughout the south.  Robert E. Lee's statue in New Orleans had been erected in 1884. Lee himself had no ties to New Orleans. He visited the city once prior to the Civil War. Robert Lee led the fight to destroy the United States for the purpose of maintaining slavery and its economical rewards. According to research, there are two time periods where there were a large increases in the dedication of statues throughout the South. The first was around 1900-20 when the southern states were enacting Jim Crow laws. The second large increase in statues occurred in the 1950s to 1960s as part of white segregationist's backlash to civil rights. Mitch writes:  "It became clearer and clearer that the symbols were intended to send a specific message to African Americans….As I read more and more about the Lost Cause, I concluded that the statues were a lie." Mitch continues: "I decided that this sanitizing of history must end….As the mayor of this multicultural city, trying to rebuild not as it was but the way it should always have been, I concluded that Wynton was right. They should come down. They are not of our age, nor of our making, and they deserve no prominence in our city. Mitch faced serious resistance to the removal of the statues from the white community, but he persisted and eventually overcame the resistance. Mitch describes the removal of the White League obelisk, the first symbol he had removed. "The operation began at two in the morning on April 24, 2017. The police SWAT team had sharpshooters in strategic perches with K-9 units circulating to insure workers' safety. Men driving the trucks, operating equipment, and other workers wore bulletproof vests, helmets, and face masks to guard their anonymity. Cardboard covered the company name on the vehicles and the license plates. All this, to take down an icon to white supremacy!" The removal should have only cost about $200,000, but because of the added security needed, it cost about $1 million. I highly recommend this memoir because it shows how people can change the status quo. Mitch Landrieu overcame many obstacles to create a better New Orleans. His fight to remove the Confederate statues is an example to us all. I have never understood why people choose to honor Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. These men chose to support the economic institution of slavery which was one of the greatest failures in the history of the United States. The negative repercussions of this institution are still being felt today. Erecting statues to honor Confederate leaders is like erecting statues to honor Hitler and his henchmen. Americans would not tolerate statues of Nazis in their midst. Why do we tolerate statues of traitors to the American dream of freedom for all?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Russell

    I couldn't read this book fast enough. As a southerner, I related on so many levels to this book. I think folks need to come to terms that the South was WRONG. We must acknowledge it, before we can move forward in healing the divisions in our country. I even tweeted Mitch Landrieu and gave him my support/vote for a presidential run in 2020. I think he would do an awesome job. If he governed the U.S. as he did New Orleans, we would all be better off.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shevon Quijano

    4.5 Stars In The Shadow of Statues was part memoir and part history of New Orleans. It opened my eyes to the shadow that slavery still has over the people of Louisiana and other areas of the south. Having grown up in a time and physical location that did not suffer so much from our country’s history of slavery, it’s hard to imagine that places still exist where overt and direct racism are a normal part of the culture. Prior to reading this my uninformed opinion on removing the confederate statue 4.5 Stars In The Shadow of Statues was part memoir and part history of New Orleans. It opened my eyes to the shadow that slavery still has over the people of Louisiana and other areas of the south. Having grown up in a time and physical location that did not suffer so much from our country’s history of slavery, it’s hard to imagine that places still exist where overt and direct racism are a normal part of the culture. Prior to reading this my uninformed opinion on removing the confederate statues was “Why’s everyone so worked up about this?” I understand better now that it’s not enough to accept history. We need to continually analyze our past and make sure that we promote what is right, not just what we’ve been told. Our physical symbols are a reflection of someone’s ideas and thoughts...but are they moral ones? Pros: I LOVED the chapter where he addressed his plan for reducing the high homicide and violence rates in the city. He seems to really feel the pain of the citizens that are stuck in cycles of violence, gangs, and murder. One great thing that came out of hurricane Katrina was that since most of the schools were destroyed and the city was in huge deficit, the city decided to change the education system to public charter schools. Since that decision almost all kids in New Orleans attend a public charter and the high school graduation rate has increased from 50 to 75%! He goes into much more detail about the other benefits but I am so thankful for those kids. Landrieu said something along the lines of “a child’s educational future shouldn’t be determined by geography” and I TOTALLY agree. I am eager for the day that poor children of all races truly have the opportunity to get high quality education no matter what zip code they live in. This is one area that America needs to adopt widely and quickly. Cons: Despite handing out a few cookies here and there to Republicans, it seems as though Mitch Landrieu believes that almost every conservative is a closed minded racist. At one point he recounts a life event where a black mans hate brought him to the realization that hate is not limited to whites - that black people can be consumed by hate as well. We can’t put individuals into these broad general categories. Both good and bad people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and political leanings. Actually it’s more like most humans have both good and bad inside of them.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    In the ongoing news cycle about removing statues that commemorate Confederate Civil War figures, we get a memoir from Mitch Landrieu, the now former mayor of New Orleans to how he got to this point and his role in getting them removed. We begin and end the book with book ends about the process of the statue removal and in between we get his biography and political career. I was disappointed. Don't quite remember how this caught my eye but like others I watched his speech about the statues and tho In the ongoing news cycle about removing statues that commemorate Confederate Civil War figures, we get a memoir from Mitch Landrieu, the now former mayor of New Orleans to how he got to this point and his role in getting them removed. We begin and end the book with book ends about the process of the statue removal and in between we get his biography and political career. I was disappointed. Don't quite remember how this caught my eye but like others I watched his speech about the statues and thought this book would be a great read. This book falls into the trap many similar memoirs have fallen into: the book begins with the topic that probably brought the reader to the text but then we got off into the author's life story and/or whatever else they choose to write about. Landrieu's not that interesting, at least not from this book. I understand that this is likely something that introduces people to him when he eyes higher office (again) and I do appreciate his discussions of race, racism and other highly topical issues. But I had been under the impression this was about the statues and I would have liked a little more about that and less about the author. I do think it's an important read, and it was important to see the removals from the POV of someone who is in the position to get it done plus the administrative (and otherwise) hurdles they encountered. This is not to diminish the work of activists and protesters who supported this and were likely the key but it's genuinely maddening to read about how even the Mayor's office was essentially blacklisted after people threatened the companies contacted regarding the removal. It does make me interested in reading a perspective/memoir from on the ground for their POV of Landreiu's take and what happened. I'd borrow this from the library unless you need it for reference for a paper or opposition research or something.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Cooper

    I discovered this on Obama’s 2018 summer reading list, and decided to read it because I was feeling nostalgic about when we had a President who read books. This book was largely autobiographical, but also included many interesting historical, social and political insights. It was a quick read, and gave me a shot of hope in these troubled times.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tina Panik

    This isn’t solely about Confederate statues—it’s about race, class, and the intersection of the history we think we know with its actual veracity. Landrieu contextualizes Hurricane Katrina, David Duke, and the Lost Cause to create a better understanding of modern America.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Well worth reading to learn more about politics in Louisiana and New Orleans. Split into five essays, only number one and five actually deal with the statues to any length. I learned a lot about the state.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jason Park

    An honorable memoir in many ways that still fails in its execution. My full review: https://medium.com/@jpark_21/in-the-s... An honorable memoir in many ways that still fails in its execution. My full review: https://medium.com/@jpark_21/in-the-s...

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Hammontree

    The South could use more leaders like Mitch Landrieu.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    This book is a fascinating look at race and the history of the American South, from slavery to Civil War to Civil Rights. As the title indicates, the book is about how three confederate monuments were taken down in New Orleans. But as it turns out, much of the book is not about that particular action, but the events and ideas that led up to it. Landrieu starts this book with his childhood, and recounts his steps towards racial awareness. Landrieu goes from his own upbringing and career choices to This book is a fascinating look at race and the history of the American South, from slavery to Civil War to Civil Rights. As the title indicates, the book is about how three confederate monuments were taken down in New Orleans. But as it turns out, much of the book is not about that particular action, but the events and ideas that led up to it. Landrieu starts this book with his childhood, and recounts his steps towards racial awareness. Landrieu goes from his own upbringing and career choices to his work with New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He finally gets to his decision, based on the request of a friend, to research the history of Confederate monuments in his beloved city and whether it’s legally possible to take them down. It’s this part of the book that’s most interesting. Landrieu seems genuinely shocked by the vitriol that accompanied his decision, and I was shocked by it as well. It’s not a perfect book, but it is an informative one. And while I recommend it to anyone interested in New Orleans, racial issues, and our country’s history, I have to qualify my recommendation for two reasons. First, this is history wrapped up in Landrieu’s own personal reflections, and likely his political ambitions. There’s quite a bit of self-congratulation in here, from Landrieu’s handling of racial issues to his handling of Hurricane Katrina. And a lot of name-dropping as well. I could have done with less of that. But it’s his story. Second, this is a book about race, told by a white man — and not just any white man, but one who’s grown up in a Louisiana dynasty. But Landrieu acknowledges his privilege frequently, and he also acknowledges the many others who have influenced his views. Landrieu does have a story to tell, and it’s important that he tell it. I really appreciated this book for the way it lays out the history of the South, and the way African-Americans have been terrorized by white people over and over again. It seems the more African-Americans gain basic legal rights, the more they are attacked and threatened by the people who fear those rights. When you look at what happened after the Civil War, and then the Civil Rights era, you see that clearly. This is not about the bigotry of 50 years ago or 150 years ago. It’s about today. What’s impactful about this book is how Landrieu clarifies the history of these monuments and the message they are sending. I think many white people genuinely believe, as we’ve heard so often, that the monuments are memorializing our country’s history and honoring the people who died in the Civil War. (“All of this happens in the shadows of statues whose message has always been, as Terence Blanchard said: African Americans are less than.”) Landrieu’s message is important and worth reading: as a country we can’t move forward until we begin taking responsibility for the crimes we’ve committed. My full review is at http://thebookstop.wordpress.com.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alison Hardtmann

    Mitch Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans when the statues came down. His book, In the Shadow of Statues, is about why he decided that he needed to use all of the political capital he'd built up over decades of public service to bring them down and the challenges he faced in doing so. But first the book is about growing up in NOLA, and how he entered politics, what it was like living through Katrina (he was Lieutenant Governor at the time) and what that experience taught him, as well as a bunch of Mitch Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans when the statues came down. His book, In the Shadow of Statues, is about why he decided that he needed to use all of the political capital he'd built up over decades of public service to bring them down and the challenges he faced in doing so. But first the book is about growing up in NOLA, and how he entered politics, what it was like living through Katrina (he was Lieutenant Governor at the time) and what that experience taught him, as well as a bunch of wonky details about the work of campaigning and governance. It's a mixed bag. Landrieu is a likable guy and his perspective, as a white Southerner whose family has been in Louisiana for generations, is an interesting one. His father was mayor of New Orleans during the desegregation of the schools and his memories of that time were well worth reading. Landrieu has a talent for seeing people as people, whether that person is in prison, a politician in the opposing party or yelling at him in the street. That quality of valuing everyone is a good one for a politician to have (and for the rest of us, too). But the book wandered off into the weeds for me for much of the middle section, as Landrieu talked about various political campaigns he'd run or been part of, and he sometimes fell into the carefully coached language of a seasoned political operative as he discussed what could and could not be achieved. In the end, though, In the Shadow of Statues ended with the heart of the book, that difficult fight to pull down those symbols of racism and segregation in a city that has a majority black population and of what message those statues sent. As someone who was deeply immersed in the history of Louisiana, his journey from dismissal of the idea to coming to the realization that it was the right thing to do was fascinating. And his final words, the speech his most famous for, is a powerful piece of writing.

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