Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 - History - 475 pages
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This is the Paris you never knew. From the Revolution to the present, Graham Robb has distilled a series of astonishing true narratives, all stranger than fiction, of the lives of the great, the near-great, and the forgotten.

A young artillery lieutenant, strolling through the Palais-Royal, observes disapprovingly the courtesans plying their trade. A particular woman catches his eye; nature takes its course. Later that night Napoleon Bonaparte writes a meticulous account of his first sexual encounter. A well-dressed woman, fleeing the Louvre, takes a wrong turn and loses her way in the nameless streets of the Left Bank. For want of a map—there were no reliable ones at the time—Marie-Antoinette will go to the guillotine.

Baudelaire, the photographer Marville, Baron Haussmann, the real-life Mimi of La Boheme, Proust, Adolf Hitler touring the occupied capital in the company of his generals, Charles de Gaulle (who is suspected of having faked an assassination attempt in Notre Dame)—these and many more are Robb’s cast of characters, and the settings range from the quarries and catacombs beneath the streets to the grand monuments to the appalling suburbs ringing the city today. The result is a resonant, intimate history with the power of a great novel.

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Review: Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris

User Review  - Goodreads

I appreciated Robb's sense of humor, the little insights here and there, the clever turns of phrase, but where the narratives really grabbed me, I was always left wanting a little more explanation or ... Read full review

Review: Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris

User Review  - Goodreads

This is the most wonderful book about the Paris you never knew. It is written in an almost historical fiction style but is really a biography about the city. The reference list for each chapter is ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Graham Robb is the author of three prize-winning biographies, each one selected as New York Times Best Books. His most recent works, The Discovery of France and Parisians, have earned several awards and much acclaim between them. He lives on the Anglo-Scottish border.

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