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on July 13, 2015
Mr. Washburne was a very influential man, a man who helped forge and maintain good relationships between France and the United States. The fact that most Americans have never heard of him is more proof of the sorry state of our education. His diaries help us understand the difficulties of foreigners trapped in Paris during the war of 1870 and the Commune. The author of this book, Michael Hill, gives the reader information about the diary entries to help us understand the context of the entries, as well as the history that was happening. Mr. Washburne helped any and all foreigners who needed him, including Germans who were trapped in Paris during the war. This book has the original diary entries, as they were written, which is not how Mr. Washburne published them, so we get to see exactly what happened. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it was like for an American in Paris during this terrible chapter of French history.
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on July 8, 2013
A good effort at recovering the words of the heroic representative of the United States who was marooned in Paris during the Second Empire siege by the Prussians, followed by the short revolt of the Reds. Mr. Hill does a solid job with the straight forward literary task he has undertaken.

One thing the book proves is that political appointees for important foreign posts are not always bad, as some careerists at the State Department are still prone to opine.

For those wishing to read another journal-type effort on this major political event, I suggest "Paris Under Siege, 1870-1871" as edited and translated by George J. Becker and published in 1969.
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on September 21, 2013
Elihu Washburne was a regular guy, self educated, who lived the American dream of rising from poverty to being prominent in Washington, DC. He served Presidents Lincoln and Grant well and was rewarded with a "soft" job as Ambassador to France, a sort of vacation for himself and his family. All hell broke loose shortly after his arrival in Paris. Other diplomats fled; however, Washburne stayed and showed the world how Americans face terror!
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on May 27, 2014
I bought this after reading about Washburne in David McCullough's The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. Washburne is an American hero whose story should be better known. His diary provides deeper insight into his character and what he went through during the Franco Prussian war, the seige, and the commune. It would make a great bio pic.
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on August 22, 2014
Terrific real-life story and a good first read. It does give some greater detail than that offered in David McCullough's book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, but not much. Best is the wonderful, plain-language, no-holds way Washburne wrote in his diary and letters: refreshing and revealing.
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on July 9, 2015
Surprising. Informative.
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on February 20, 2013
Elihu Wasburne's diary is an excellent way to learn about the war and the effect it
had on the people living in Paris during the Seige..Wonderful. historical account of the Franco Prussian war.
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on May 21, 2015
Fascinating, first-hand account of the siege of Paris and how the American ambassador helped so many -- both starving Parisians and stranded German workers --survive, even at risk of his own life.
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on August 26, 2013
Inspired to read after reading David McCullough's book on Americans in Paris.
Most of letters and diary notes repetitive and boring
Mr. Hill never took time or space to explain:
How diplomatic packages moved and how and why they were respected
How was Washburn financed in his most difficult situation-did money move as cash? how was it protected and secured, etc.
Hill never gave much background to plight of Germans (who were protected by Washburn during the Franco-Prussian War. How were they threatened and how were they protected?
How did Washburn get access to food, etc. during the terrible shortages? Hills illustration of expenses was impressive.
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on February 20, 2015
A great read and an exciting description of life in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. A very interesting read.
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