After a long career in urban policy and land planning, Peter M. Wolf decided to look back at the city he calls home, even though life took him elsewhere long ago.  My New Orleans, Gone Away, a Memoir of Loss and Renewal (Delphinium Books, 2013) is a bittersweet memoir of family and place. Inspired by the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina, Wolf’s book begins in the middle of the last century and describes a period in the South that was special, and that’s now gone away.

Ancestors on both sides of Wolf’s family arrived separately in New Orleans from France and Germany in the 1840s. Over the next hundred years, their descendants became leaders in the city’s sugar, cotton and retail industries, but as Jews were excluded from the city’s social mainstream. After excelling at Yale, Wolf had to decide whether to stay in New Orleans and continue the family traditions, or follow his passion for art history and architecture.

Now a registered investment advisor in Manhattan and a resident of East Hampton, Long Island, Wolf has written several books on land use, the growth and evolution of communities, and the history of urban planning. He serves with a number of real estate, arts and preservation organizations, both in New York and New Orleans. He recently spoke with BookTrib by phone.