The spectacular breadth and quality of the iconography spawned by Paris is, alone, a demonstration of the importance of this city in human culture.
Taschen has published an imposing photographic portrait of Paris, bolstered by an excellent text. It is a volume indispensable to anyone who wants a definitive – or as definitive as one can be in the limited space of 572 pages – iconographic recounting of the last 150 years in the life of Paris. Continue reading Paris: Portrait of a City by Jean-Claude Gautrand
Heyday takes place in the annus mirabilis of 1848. In fact, it is as enveloping an immersion into that time as many of us will ever get.
The 1840s are an era often neglected and misunderstood, glossed over by our history survey courses as they rush from the “Age of Federalism” to the Civil War; or, in the case of European history, that is dispensed with along with the whole nineteenth century with a couple of words about the Industrial Revolution and the creation of nation-states. What Andersen understands, and brilliantly conveys, is the depth of this pivotal, exciting, genuinely revolutionary – in several ways – point in history.
Continue reading Heyday by Kurt Andersen
Paris, Paris, was first published in 2005. Its reissue this year is a perfect opportunity for those who have any level of knowledge or interest in Paris to read this splendid book.
Continue reading Paris, Paris by David Downie
Last year there was a run-away success in French publishing that didn’t fit into any of the usual categories. It was a history book organized around the Paris metro system called Metronome. The most improbable part was its author.
Continue reading Metronome by Lorànt Deutsch
Edmund de Waal, a British potter, describes the collection of netsuke, Japanese miniature sculptures, belonging to his uncle that he will one day inherit. Thus begins a journey through history, following the collection, that takes us from 1870s Paris to early twentieth-century Vienna and finally back to Tokyo.
Continue reading The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
June 19th, 1842 was a Sunday, like today. At the time, the bottom of the front page of the French dailies was occupied by a novel in serial form. On this day, the Journal des Débat Politiques et Littéraires, a popular Parisian daily, published the first installment of a tremendously important work of literature that is all but unknown in the English-speaking world today.
Continue reading The Mysteries of Paris
David McCullough has come out with a delightful new book on the Americans who visited Paris in the nineteenth century and brought back what they learned to make contributions to American art, architecture, letters, science, medicine and even politics.
Continue reading The Greater Journey