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Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas is a reinvention of a traditional atlas

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Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas

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What does it mean to “know a place?” Street grids? Names? Buildings? Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press, $29.95), pushes cartographic conventions to make itself brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides a vivid, complex look at the multi-faceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions. (Think back to the bestselling Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.) More than 20 essays assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city's remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices and local experts, as well as coauthors Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker’s compelling contributions. Featuring 22 full-color two-page-spread maps, Unfathomable City plumbs the depths of this major tourist destination, pivotal scene of American history and culture and, most recently, site of monumental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
The innovative maps’ precision and specificity shift our notions of the Mississippi, the Caribbean, Mardi Gras, jazz, soils and trees, generational roots, and many other subjects, and expand our ideas of how any city is imagined and experienced. Together with the inspired texts, they show New Orleans as both an imperiled city—by erosion, crime, corruption, and sea level rise—and an ageless city that lives in music as a form of cultural resistance. Compact, lively, and completely original, Unfathomable City takes readers on a tour that will forever change the way they think about place.

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