New Orleans writer Morgan Molthrop confesses freely that he loves his city passionately, enough so that he ended a successful finance career to return home in 2009 to a post-Katrina city.
From his perspective as a fervent student of the city’s history, Molthrop considers the “new” New Orleans and how challenges of its past helped prepare the city to fight back after Hurricane Katrina. The result is his self-published work, “Andrew Jackson’s Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success.”
Drawing on his knowledge of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and Gen. Andrew Jackson’s decisions at the time, Molthrop looks for corollaries in the way locals have worked to restore the city against overwhelming odds.
It’s an interesting idea for a book and one that is certain to capture the imaginations of readers as 2015 approaches, with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans and the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Sometimes Molthrop’s device works, as when he relates Jackson’s ability to “Get the Right People in Place” to the Saints’ hiring Drew Brees and Sean Payton, or Jackson’s capacity to “Act with Bravado” to Bryan Batt reopening his high-end design shop, Hazelnut, soon after the storm.
Sometimes, however, the analogies are strained, as when he applies the lesson “Act First, Get Permission Later” to the creation of the New Orleans Healing Center.
Although each of the interviews has merit, Molthrop’s choice of interviewees is puzzling considering major contributors to the recovery who were not included in favor of some who are (the founder of Demo Diva). Where is Gen. Russel Honoré, for example?
Nonetheless, the strategies that Molthrop derives from Jackson’s “playbook” are useful lessons, even if they are not groundbreaking: “Be Flexible and Adapt,” “Never Forget the Prize,” “Set a Good Example for Your Staff,” and more. Readers will recognize the lessons as useful in attaining a goal, especially against long odds.
The author’s enthusiasm for the topic of the Battle of New Orleans and for Jackson’s leadership shines throughout, as he relates the history with energy and in understandable, contemporary terms. For those who believe that the battle was irrelevant because the war was already over by the time it was fought (ended by the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814), Molthrop does a fine job of explaining what could have ensued had the British succeeded in capturing the city and its important port.
He paints a believable portrait of privateer Jean Lafitte as a savvy businessman, and of his older brother, Dominique You, as a skilled cannoneer who gave the Americans a decisive advantage in battle.
Although Molthrop’s admiration for Jackson’s handling of the battle is palpable, the writer is careful to temper his adulation by reminding the reader of Jackson’s role in the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the subsequent Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans from the southeast to regions west of the Mississippi River.
Molthrop’s book is attractively designed and illustrated with photographs by the author. At just 110 pages, it makes a quick and entertaining read, even if it leaves the reader thinking how excellent the book could have been had Molthrop chosen his interview subjects a bit more thoughtfully.