History buffs often discount the importance of the Battle of New Orleans, fought on January 8th 200 years ago, but the unlikely victory of the fledgling U.S. militia over the highly trained British army remains one of the most astonishing and critical events in American history. The Treaty of Ghent, officially ending the War of 1812, had been signed on Christmas Eve, but the pivotal battle fought just four miles downriver from the French Quarter firmly established U.S. control over the Mississippi River Valley.
Now, on the cusp of the battle's 200th anniversary, several Louisiana authors have released books that re-examine its significance. The Jan. 8 attack that killed 2,000 British troops in less than two hours was only one of many skirmishes along the Gulf Coast over two months that helped determine the outcome of the war.
Award-winning author and commander Ronald J. Drez ("The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception"), History Professor Ron Chapman ("The Battle of New Orleans: But for a Piece of Wood") and businessman and cultural tourism guru Morgan Molthrop ("Andrew Jackson's Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success") approach the subject of the most exciting conflict in Louisiana history from totally different perspectives although all agree upon its impact.
Where Chapman takes a scholarly view and Drez proves that the British were intent on taking New Orleans, Treaty of Ghent or not, Molthrop folds the battle into the context of New Orleans' cultural history, extracting lessons for contemporary readers. Molthrop fascinates with analysis of the frontier general, who used his military fame as a platform for election to the U.S. presidency. Molthrop asserts that the character traits, tactics and determination Jackson demonstrated in defeating the far better trained British army are the same characteristics that have catapulted New Orleans' recovery following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
By interviewing a wide array of notable local sources, Molthrop juxtaposes events from 1815 with those of 2005, demonstrating unconventional attack plans that achieved improbable victories. Success tips are categorized with military terminology, including shoring up defenses, using guerrilla tactics, acting with bravado and never forgetting the prize. Readers can reap valuable life lessons along with a fascinating history lesson. Jackson refused to follow traditional rules of European engagement. The rough-and-ready leader formed alliances with suspect Baratarian pirates, free men of color, Choctaw Indians, Kaintucks and Creoles, each with singular mettle.
Similarly, New Orleans' post-Katrina revival brought together a motley coalition of business, government and educational leaders, entertainers, tourism and sports promoters - even a Vodou priestess - to cooperate in an entirely new manner.
Both crises called for decisive action and sidestepping rules. Real estate developer, Pres Kabacoff, for example, saw an urgent demand for loft apartments for returning artists and a Healing Center to create a new social hub. Putting together federal historic tax credits and new market tax credits, he quickly built a nexus.
In 21st century New Orleans, the underlying defense is music - without which the city could perish. So, entertainers Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis and Habitat for Humanity teamed up to create Musicians Village, providing homes so musicians could get back into the clubs to perform.
After Katrina, the city needed to jumpstart its economy. New Orleans has always been a city of entrepreneurs "because large corporations won't headquarter in a place with a poor school system and an annual summer evacuation," Molthrop wryly commented. But in 2000, New Orleans turned that hardship into an advantage, founding Idea Village, a startup community with a vision to create "a self-sustaining ecosystem that attracts, supports and retrains entrepreneurial talent."
Above all, Jackson had the charisma to unite diverse groups and convince them to follow his leadership, pledging to die before surrendering to the British. The general's team approach solidly defeated the Brit's top-down command structure. "He'd beaten the army that had beaten Napoleon," Molthrop wrote.
"Jackson's Playbook" was designed not only to reflect on one of the most important battles in U.S. history on its 200th anniversary, comparing its indomitable military leader to modern leaders, but also to help people understand and manage complex issues in their workplaces, neighborhoods and in their daily lives.
"Jackson's Playbook" provides an entirely new insight into this historical event as well as the enduring culture of New Orleans. Offbeat photos and insider perspective on this intriguing city make "Jackson's Playbook" a fascinating read and guide to life.
For copies of the book, photographs or interviews, contact Marqua Brunette, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Barataria Communications at 850-769-9034 [email@example.com] or by contacting the author directly at 504-657-6670 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Molthrop's "Jackson Playbook" Events, Signings & Appearances:
January 1, 2015 - Barnes & Noble, Metairie - 1 p.m.
January 5 - University of Lafayette history classes lectures
January 6 - Jefferson Parish Main Library - 7 p.m.
January 7 - Louisiana State Library, Baton Rouge - noon
January 8 - New Orleans Athletic Club - 7 p.m. [Bicentennial Key Note]
January 9 - "Steppin' Out" on WYES-Channel 12
January 11 - Creole Queen Steamboat lecture/signing - 10 a.m.
January 15 - Prytania Theatre book signing - 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
January 21 - National Society of Colonial Dames - noon