An Adventure History of Paris

Book - 2010
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Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, Baudelaire, Baron Haussmann, the real-life Mimi of La Boheme, Proust, Charles de Gaulle--these and many more are Robb's cast of characters in a series of stories about the Paris you never knew.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010
ISBN: 9780393067248
Branch Call Number: 944.361 ROB
Characteristics: xi, 475 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), map ; 25 cm


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Obtuse writing style, assumes that we know Paris and all of these historical characters. These short stories pulled from different epochs in the life of the city will be of interest to a particular audience. Overall I found the stories either impenetrable or tedious.

Jun 17, 2017

This is journalism rather than history. Robb is not competing with John Ardagh as a chronicler of French culture, or Mavis Gallant as eyewitness to May 1968, or Zeldin, or Simon Schama in general. Some chapters are silly--I'm thinking of "Lost" which deals with Marie Antoinette's inability to navigate the streets of Paris in particular. The chapter in the form of an imaginary film script dealing with Juliette Greco's affair with Miles Davis is very funny and charming and is the best thing in the book.

Feb 13, 2016

This book was obviously very well researched but I found it very difficult to read. It was much too "wordy", would have benefited from a thorough editing. I found it a tough slog trying to understand what he was trying to convey, as I progressed. Ended up just skimming through long passages, waiting to see if he would ever get to the point. Did not like the "theatre play" chapter; what was the point of including it?
The best chapter in my opinion was on Rue d'Enfer (Denfert Rochereau).

Mar 15, 2013

More like a series of magazine articles
I couldn't always figure out his point if there was one in the story
A few chapters had some interesting history but most had only random tidbits of knowledge
The chapter on the movie did not hold my interest, seeing the movie scenes might have had more impact.

Nov 21, 2011

Great history of Paris, told novelistically from the viewpoint of various people who lived or visited Paris at various points in history. Roughly chronological in order, the book moves from about the 1780s right up to the 21st century. Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and Hitler all figure in as major historical figures; minor figures include a Nazi officer who accompanied Hitler when they occupied Paris, a man who saved Paris from its subterranean gypsum quarries (cave-ins were becoming frequent), and a number of artists and writers.

I really liked how the chapters didn't announce who they were about, but just told a story from that person's point of view. The book finishes with a good bibliography that shows extensive research.

Oct 12, 2011

The book is filled with interesting tidbits of information. Robb Graham does an excellent job of recreating the different eras of the city of many Passions. Pleasant read.

Aug 18, 2011

This was a very enjoyable history of Paris as told in a series of chapters about different people who lived in or visited Paris over the past couple of centuries. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had already known something about Paris and its citizens. Some chapters were quite obscure because they were written in a way that assumed you knew who the people were and what events they had been involved in. This was particularly true for the post-World War II chapters. Still, the city comes alive in a way I haven't seen in a history book before. I was struck by how much the city has changed over the centuries as various leaders and architects re-built it to suit their own views of what a city should be.

Scout_WPL Feb 03, 2011

Not a typical history book. This is more of a history adventure as you discover Paris through little known facts.

I have always appreciated the landscape of the city but now I am more intrigue by its secrets revealed in this book.

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