My New Orleans, Gone Away by Peter M. Wolf

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As interesting for what it doesn’t say (and the way it doesn’t say it) as for what it does.


A “charming” memoir of growing up Jewish among New Orleans high society and finding a place in the world (Winston Groom, The Wall Street Journal).

The Wolf family is Jewish but—as Peter Wolf’s grandmother put it—“not in an obvious way.” In fact, they throw lavish Christmas parties to entertain Peter’s father’s friends in the cotton business and even put up a tree. But despite their contributions, successes, and philanthropic work, the Wolfs are always excluded from New Orleans’ inner circles, elite clubs, and high-status Mardi Gras krewes.

It takes a detour to New England—where young Peter attends Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, and meets friends like Calvin Trillin—to put the young man in touch with his cultural roots, and an adventurous adult life beyond the Big Easy to see the corruption, insularity, and racism that lurk beneath the cultural and culinary delights of his home. With a fond heart and a clear, candid view, Wolf offers this recollection of his childhood in Metairie, Louisiana, and the unique social hierarchies of NOLA, with its old Creole families and residents both rich and poor.

A meditation on place and identity, this narrative is “a loving and beautifully written portrait of New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s” and a look at a landscape that was shifting and disappearing even before Hurricane Katrina altered it forever (Booklist).

About Peter M. Wolf

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PETER M. WOLF is a sixth-generation member of a New Orleans commercial family. After Yale, Wolf earned a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture from NYU. Dr. Wolf is a nationally recognized land planning, urban policy and asset management authority. Dr. Wolf is the founder of the Thomas Moran Trust; Chairman of the Godchaux-Reserve Plantation Fund; and a trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and The Village Preservation Society. His research and writing have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Ford Foundation; the American Federation of Arts: and a Fulbright Fellowship.
Published July 9, 2013 by Delphinium Books. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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on May 05 2013

As interesting for what it doesn’t say (and the way it doesn’t say it) as for what it does.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by WINSTON GROOM on Jul 19 2013

His memoir is about his city, its snobby topside and seamy underside, about New Orleans contrasted with the Ivy League, and about how he came to be, of all things, an urban planner when, in this reviewer's opinion, he should have stuck to writing—but I digress.

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