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Seven Ages of Paris Illustrated Edition
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“Consistently bewitching. . . . [Horne] renders France unusually vivid by focusing on the one corner of it that millions of foreigners have toured or lived in or dreamed about.” --The New York Times Book Review
"Horne gives readers a wonderful sense of everyday life in Paris at every turn and displays a convincing understanding of the Parisian character." –San Francisco Chronicle
“A fluid, graceful, deliberate prose stylist. . . . Horne’s purpose is not to be encyclopedic but to paint a portrait, and this he does surpassingly well.” –The Washington Post Book World
From the Inside Flap
Seven Ages of Paris begins with the reign of the forceful Philippe Auguste, who greatly expanded the Capetian kingdom before devoting himself to fortifying the city and to the construction of the Louvre. Paris shed blood in the Hundred Years War and in the religious wars between Catholics and Huguenots and prospered under Henri IV?s reconciliation. His grandson, Louis XIV, built the famed palace at Versailles and patronized the playwrights Molière and Racine. With the ancien régime swept away by the Revolution, Napoleon ushered in the Imperial age, and, subsequently, the Second Empire. Partly to dampen Paris?s revolutionary zeal, Baron Haussmann modernized the city: avenues were widened, squares expanded and the medieval market at Les Halles razed.
Horne portrays the Prussians bivouacking on the Champs-Elysées in 1871. Paris bounced back after the war: the 1900 World Exposition showed off an electrified Champs-Elysées and the Métro station entrances in the Art Nouveau style. Most visibly, the Eiffel Tower went up in 1889 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Revolution.
The hubris of the Belle Epoque led straight into the Great War. The Armistice and the Paris Peace Conference sealed a phoney peace, and when war resumed the city suffered four terrible years of occupation and was visited by Hitler himself. Liberation brought the last of Horne?s seven ages, the Fifth Republic, headed by de Gaulle.
Seven Ages of Paris also recalls the women who defined Parisian life?from Héloïse down to Josephine Baker. With an elegiac description of the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Horne brings to an end a brilliantly written history of the world?s most captivating city.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Item Weight : 1.03 pounds
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400034469
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400034468
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Vintage; Illustrated edition (April 13, 2004)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #280,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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After my trip, I was still reading and really got more enjoyment out of the book since I would know the areas of the city frequently referenced. This book would be difficult if you've never been to Paris or don't have a general sense of the neighborhoods, major buildings and monuments. Also, while this is a history of a city, Paris was involved pretty much in every major event for the last 1000 years in Europe. Having a general sense of European history is also a benefit since Horne will assume the reader does.
Overall it is an excellent narrative of the history of the city and its people. I would've preferred more details on the Roman history and the period leading up to the medieval period, but the descriptions of the politics, culture and the frequent civil unrest give you the sense of Paris as a living and breathing organism.
I have read other history books which attempt to similarly cover great spans of history, and they always end up seeming ponderous and labored. This book on the other hand allows the reader a very detailed exploration of the tumultuous history of one of Europe's most famous cities, while providing a very emotional and moving story.
Magnifique, and highly recommended to both Francophiles and history lovers alike.
A second issue (minor) is Horne's constant use of french terms throughout the text and without the english translation. If the comments are important enough to add into the text, certainly they're worth translating(?). As it stands, the reader misses out on whatever the author's intended message was.
There are much better books on Paris.
Top reviews from other countries
Overall, a truly excellent work. I thought I knew Paris but this has expanded my knowledge ten fold.
There are a couple of reasons why this didn't get a full five star rating. The first is that if you are not a French speaker (or reader) there are many occasions where there are quotations or phrases in French that are not given translations, so if you are totally stumped you'd need to go and look them up. The second reason is that the book waned somewhat towards the end; the book goes up to 1969, and there's a distinct feel that the author is rather weary of the era and all that it contains. There are a few rather barbed comments that reveal the feeling that for the author, the real glory of Paris is not in such things as the Tour Montparnasse and the Pompidou centre. Some periods of history are written about with great verve and enjoyment but it's clear that after the Belle Epoque, for the author at least, it was downhill all the way.
This isn't an easy access travel guide, and if that's what you were seeking, you would be frustrated by the leisurely style and lack of instant soundbites. But if you are looking to understand Paris, her history and that of her country and of wider Europe, this is the perfect book.
is both informative and immensely readable.