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Paris: Biography of a City by [Jones, Colin]
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Paris: Biography of a City Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Length: 631 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
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Product description

About the Author

Colin Jones is professor of history at the University of Warwick and the author of several works of history, including The Longman Companion to the French Revolution and The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 17794 KB
  • Print Length: 631 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 April 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LLIHM2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #281,449 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

Format: Paperback
There's no shortage of guides to Paris for the English-speaker; there are plenty, too, that stray off the beaten track and take in the less touristed quarters of the city, that cover Belleville and Bercy as well as the Île de la Cité and the Champs-Elysées. However, for the English-speaker who wants a feeling for the city's variety over time as well as space, who wants detail on how the city grew and treasures the quirky details and unvisited suburbs as well as the main boulevards - the sort of detail that's copiously available on London, of course - there's much less. Colin Jones's history, then, fills a need, and fills it brilliantly.

There's a detailed history of the growth of Paris, covering both the politics and also, more importantly, the social history - the river-merchants' trade and their guild are crucial, as witness the ship on the arms of the city. Jones also, in a series of "side-bars", explores particular themes or localities in a manner that cuts across the chronology and opens up fascinating sidelights on the city - subjects here include the Roman amphitheatre, the Arènes de Lutéce, which was lost under the growing city and remains strangely off the tourist trails; the Rue Mouffetard and its role first as major artery out of the medieval city and then as Bohemian hang-out in the early twentieth century; lost rivers such as the Bièvre, the iceworks on which gave its name to the Glacière metro stop, and so on.

I could have done with a little more information on the area outside the fortifications, the "banlieu" beyond the Ville-de-Paris department (Jones covers its modern form well, but we hear little about these settlements before the city sweeps over them in the twentieth century) but this is a trifling point: this is a fantastic guide to the multi-layered history of the city and warmly recommended to any English speaker visiting the city or just wanting to wallow in it vicariously.
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Format: Paperback
Books about Paris are so numerous - ranging from the dryly academic to pap designed for a teleseries - that another needs to stand out to justify itself. Colin Jones' fascinating Biography of a City does just that. It begins with Paris under the Roman empire and ends with an optimistic view of the city in the 21st century. Throughout, Jones never lets great learning make for heavy reading. Jones clearly loves Paris but he avoids any temptation to clichéd sentimentality. This helps make his book on Paris probably the best for decades. It has some very original illustrations (though only in monochrome) and is handily portable. Lengthy boxes - on famous monuments such as the Café Procope, Victor Hugo and the Eiffel Tower, or oddities like the Arcades and the Catacombs - break the book entertainingly. Whether you are planning a first visit to Paris or want to delve far more deeply into its history, it is probably the best book around on the subject.
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Format: Paperback
I read this before, during and after a recent trip to Paris. Colin Jones' research has obviously been enormous, but he manages to leaven a huge volume of information with lively anecdotes and telling images. It certainly added greatly not only to my knowledge but also to my enjoyment of Paris.
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Format: Paperback
Like most people I love to visit Paris and have done so on more than one occasion. At times there is a distinct lack of English at the majority of 'sights' and 'tourist' destinations. I had a desire to learn more beyond the tourist leaflets and booklets I could find. This book is a very readable explanation of the times of Paris from early beginnings. It also contains many illustrations. A must read before you go...or on your return!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read the description and a number if positive 5 star reviews of this book, I chose it to develop my understanding of Paris as a city before a recent trip. I was expecting a mix of geographical history, economic history and social history, with more of a leaning towards the latter. I was disappointed. It is mainly geographical history, an overview of Paris's town planning over the millennia. For me it lacked the personal. There wasn't enough time given to how changes in the physicality of the city affected the people who lived there. People seem incidental to the streets and buildings they interact with. The dry tone of the book sent me to sleep on more than one occasion. I read the Kindle version, and the structure of side panels didn't work at all well. I can imagine that, with a physical book, flipping between the main narrative and the incidental asides would be easier. In the Kindle version, they interrupt the flow of the narrative - mainly because they're plonked into the text and are more interesting, so that when the main narrative resumes, there is a moment of disorientation. I wish the whole book had been more on the model of the side panels. Having said that, the author has carried out extensive research, knows his subject and seems passionate about the geographical history of the city. If that's what you're looking for, this is undoubtedly a good choice. If, like me, you're after more social history, you'll probably wind up wishing you'd bought Alistair Horne's book.
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