100 books like Necropolis

By Kathryn Olivarius,

Here are 100 books that Necropolis fans have personally recommended if you like Necropolis. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Life on the Mississippi

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Life on the Mississippi is the autobiographical story of Mark Twain’s career as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s.

I first read this book when living in the French Quarter in the 1990s and could hear ship horns out on the river as I took in Twain’s fascinating, often silly and sarcastic narrative about his life and the river.

When describing New Orleans cemeteries, Twain writes, “Many of the cemeteries are beautiful, and are kept in perfect order. When one goes from the levee or the business streets near it, to a cemetery, he observes to himself that if those people down there would live as neatly while they are alive as they do after they are dead, they would find many advantages in it.

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life on the Mississippi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Life on the Mississippi (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. It is also a travel book, recounting his trip up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Saint Paul many years after the war.


Book cover of The Province of Affliction: Illness and the Making of Early New England

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

While hundreds of books have been written on early New England, Ben Mutschler deftly paints a portrait of life in New England “with sickness at its center.” He thoroughly integrates family struggles over illness and the demands placed on local governments into the story of the social and political development of this region that has long valued public health even as it has also endured tragic circumstances.

By Ben Mutschler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Province of Affliction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we balance individual and collective responsibility for illness? This question, which continues to resonate today, was especially pressing in colonial America, where episodic bouts of sickness were pervasive, chronic ails common, and epidemics all too familiar.

In The Province of Affliction, Ben Mutschler explores the surprising roles that illness played in shaping the foundations of New England society and government from the late seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century. Considered healthier than residents in many other regions of early America, and yet still riddled with disease, New Englanders grappled steadily with what could be expected of the…


Book cover of The Contagious City: The Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Simon Finger’s book, The Contagious City, is a wonderful, concise introduction to the politics of public health in early America. By focusing on Philadelphia, a city literally designed by William Penn to be healthier than European cities, Finger shows how a distinctly American view of public health developed even after that original plan failed to achieve its desired results. Finger describes the growth of the medical community in Philadelphia, its trials during the Revolution, and its failures during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic.

By Simon Finger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Contagious City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the time William Penn was planning the colony that would come to be called Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia at its heart, Europeans on both sides of the ocean had long experience with the hazards of city life, disease the most terrifying among them. Drawing from those experiences, colonists hoped to create new urban forms that combined the commercial advantages of a seaport with the health benefits of the country. The Contagious City details how early Americans struggled to preserve their collective health against both the strange new perils of the colonial environment and the familiar dangers of the traditional city,…


Book cover of The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Charles E. Rosenberg published his book, The Cholera Years, in 1962, and it has remained the classic book on the history of medicine in the 19th century United States. Rosenberg has had a singular impact on the field and has written on many public health topics, but his first book remains my favorite. Cleverly integrating the histories of social change, religion, and the contentious politics of New York City into a richly detailed chronicle of three separate epidemics of cholera, Rosenberg provides a gripping account of how Americans’ responses to public health crises have changed over time.

By Charles E. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cholera Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method…


Book cover of Doctoring Freedom: The Politics of African American Medical Care in Slavery and Emancipation

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Gretchen Long’s book Doctoring Freedom includes remarkable stories not only of how Black people were abused and left out of American health care, such as it was in the 19th century, but centers the book on Black Americans’ efforts to support their health and their citizenship while being denied both. Long’s finely detailed case studies of Black doctors, such as John Donalson Austin who had been an enslaved herbal healer who was denied the right to practice when free, is one of many stories Long uncovers as she details the ways Black healers and doctors used clinics, hospitals, and dispensaries as sites of resistance to both medical and political authorities.

By Gretchen Long,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Doctoring Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For enslaved and newly freed African Americans, attaining freedom and citizenship without health for themselves and their families would have been an empty victory. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was a critical battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain at least some of that control. In Doctoring Freedom, Gretchen Long tells the stories of African Americans who fought for access to both medical care and medical education, showing the important relationship between medical practice and political identity.
Working closely with antebellum medical journals, planters' diaries, agricultural publications, letters from…


Book cover of A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Written by accomplished historian Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess tells the true story of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau based on extensive archival research.

In telling her readers about this Creole woman of color who was deeply embedded in the culture of New Orleans in the 1800s, we learn the real story of a woman who was often glorified and denigrated by the press and by local authors who wrote many fantastical tales about her life misleading many about her character and her religion. 

By Carolyn Morrow Long,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New Orleans Voudou Priestess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense, Marie Leveau also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims and ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. In separating verifiable fact from semi-truths and complete fabrication, Carolyn Morrow Long explores the unique social, political, and legal setting in which the lives of Laveau's African and European ancestors became intertwined in nineteenth-century New Orleans.


Book cover of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

I discovered and used The World That Made New Orleans as a source for my book.

Upon opening the book, I was gleefully surprised to discover what an informative, interesting, and fun read it is. Sublette describes the French origins of the city in the early 1700s which involved wild parties, debauchery, tragic exploratory expeditions, and a massive Ponzi scheme that used Louisiana and the fictional gold mines there to defraud most every rich person in France, eventually crashing the entire French economy.

He then took me on a thrilling journey through the Spanish and early American periods to quadroon balls, Congo Square, and so many other fascinating places. I knew the city’s history was interesting, but reading The World That Made New Orleans blew me away. 

By Ned Sublette,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World That Made New Orleans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the Top 10 Books of 2008 by The Times-Picayune.  Winner of the 2009 Humanities Book of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Awarded the New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for 2008. 

New Orleans is the most elusive of American cities. The product of the centuries-long struggle among three mighty empires--France, Spain, and England--and among their respective American colonies and enslaved African peoples, it has always seemed like a foreign port to most Americans, baffled as they are by its complex cultural inheritance.

 

The World That Made New…


Book cover of Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

This book provides an intimate look at Storyville, the legal New Orleans red-light district that operated in a grid of streets nestled between St. Louis Cemeteries no. 1 and 2 near the French Quarter from 1897 to 1917.

Although the book is a bit dated (it was published in 1974) and includes a few wild and unsubstantiated stories about certain historic New Orleans personalities, such as Marie Laveau, this mostly factual volume is a fascinating and detailed portrait of the "District," as Storyville was often called, and the colorful, sometimes tragic stories of the people who lived and worked there.

By Al Rose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Storyville, New Orleans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A true-to-life impression of Storyville, the only legally established red light district in the US

At the turn of the twentieth-century, there were hundreds of red-light districts in the United States, ranging in size from a discreet “house” or two in or near small towns and cities to block after bawdy block of brothels in larger cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District seeks to offer the reader a reasonably true-to-life impression of Storyville, the most famous of the large districts and the only such district…


Book cover of Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana

Christian Pinnen Author Of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands

From my list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of race and slavery in the lower Mississippi Valley because the region is a fulcrum of United States history. I was always fascinated by the significance of the Mississippi River for American expansion, society, and culture. Ultimately, this region of the country is so deeply influenced by people of African descent that must be included in all histories, and I wanted to share their stories in a particular place during the colonial period. Telling these stories in places where they have commonly been less well represented is very rewarding and it opens more ways to understand the histories of places like Natchez along the Mississippi River.

Christian's book list on race and slavery in colonial Mississippi Valley

Christian Pinnen Why did Christian love this book?

Voices of the Enslaved is a beautifully written and masterfully researched book (also award-winning) on the French period in colonial Louisiana. White traces the fleeting appearances of enslaved Africans in Louisiana court records to illuminate how they were able to achieve legal recognition where their enslavers tried to give them none. Out of the many fragments of legal documents, White creates a collage of Black lives in French Louisiana that really illuminates the Black contributions to the region.

By Sophie White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Voices of the Enslaved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In eighteenth-century New Orleans, the legal testimony of some 150 enslaved women and men--like the testimony of free colonists--was meticulously recorded and preserved. Questioned in criminal trials as defendants, victims, and witnesses about attacks, murders, robberies, and escapes, they answered with stories about themselves, stories that rebutted the premise on which slavery was founded.

Focusing on four especially dramatic court cases, Voices of the Enslaved draws us into Louisiana's courtrooms, prisons, courtyards, plantations, bayous, and convents to understand how the enslaved viewed and experienced their worlds. As they testified, these individuals charted their movement between West African, indigenous, and colonial…


Book cover of Property

David Wright Faladé Author Of Black Cloud Rising

From my list on complicated Black-white relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, the American story is about “mixedness”—about the ways in which people of various backgrounds and beliefs have come together, oftentimes despite themselves, to make up our modern racial stew. It has been true since the Founding and is all the more so now, even as we, as a society, continue to want to resist it. These novels achieve what I aspire to in my own writing: the white characters are as complex as the Black ones. And in their struggles to make sense of the world, they all reveal the complexity and contradictions of American identity.

David's book list on complicated Black-white relations

David Wright Faladé Why did David love this book?

A thin, little book and a true masterpiece!

Narrated by Manon Gaudet, the mistress of an 1830s plantation outside New Orleans, the novel forced me to adopt the perspective of a person who is both oppressed, as a woman in the 19th century, and oppressor, as a slave-owner, who is keenly observant and stunningly blind. Manon’s body-servant, Sarah, has given birth to a deaf wild-child who Manon cannot ignore, given his striking resemblance to her own husband. Manon, who is obsessed with Sarah too, is incapable of recognizing her as someone being victimized by her husband. She only sees a rival.

I teach Property in my classes. My students hate Manon. They also love the book!

By Valerie Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Property as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Property is Valerie Martin's powerful, startling novel set in America's deep South in the early nineteenth century: a story of freedom, both political and personal. Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. This private drama is played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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