Paris: The Secret History Paperback – 1 Mar 2007
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Outrageously readable . . . a fascinating riot of a book (Simon Sebag-Montefiore)
Fascinating . . . A vivid sans-culottes history, from the street up (David Starkey)
Magnificent and entertaining . . . riveting (Jason Burke Observer)
About the Author
Andrew Hussey was born in 1963. He first went to Paris in the late 1970s, fired up by the punk revolution in his home town of Liverpool and with a thirst for anarchy and adventure. His first taste of Paris was busking in the metro: he was hooked. He has since lived and worked in Manchester, Lyons, Paris, Aberystwyth, Madrid and Barcelona, writing on the Nineties Parisian fashion for suicides, anarchy, radical Islam, art terrorism, Situationism, football, pornography and The Fall for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Andrew Hussey is a contributing editor of the Observer Sports Magazine, and Head of French and Comparative Literature at the University of London in Paris.
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Top Customer Reviews
The jacket blurb promises 'a history book that can be taken to the bar' - perhaps because that's where it was written?
The subject matter should make for light reading, but somehow, despite the breakneck pace of the anecdotes, something goes wrong. The small print, long paragraphs, and dry, humourless prose drag the book down. Furthermore, I'm no expert on the history of Paris, but when I did know a little bit about a period I noticed factual inaccuracies. For example, Danton was with the Cordeliers Club (not the Jacobin Club), and there was only one Committee of Public Safety in the Revolution, not many.
For these reasons, this book arguably gives you less value than a Horrible History. Hussey has sacrificed depth for breathless narrative in the hope of reaching out to a wide audience, but the stream of details feels laboured and aimless. Unlike the city, 'Paris: The Secret History' fails to capture the imagination, and is barely more fun than reading academic history.
I felt that some major incidents were glossed over in favour of more trivial generalisations of life in Paris; I felt that certain events in the Revolution, the Terror and World War II could have had more time given to them, especially as these are the events that were so important and famous to those living outside France.
I wanted to know about the seedy underworld of Paris that was promised and although there is a bit of that, there wasn't enough to warrant the title of a 'secret' history. I also agree with some of the other reviewers that Hussey himself creeps in a little bit too much in the main body of the text- an epilogue is fine, but you don't expect a write to pop up in his own chapters! It was a bit unnerving, really, rather than a major distraction.
Overall, a bit disappointed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Already had this in paperback but got it for my kindle HD for taking on holiday. Maybe not the easiest read but once read it's easy enough to find info if you forgetPublished 13 months ago by SF
This ebook is marred by many typos with no evidence of proof-reading.Published 16 months ago by LynetteS
Really enjoyed it. Spent a week in Paris reading our way across the city and had a cracking time. Very informative and tremendous fun. Have read some of the reviews on Amazon. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kindle Customer1
Yes, it really is. It's brilliant. A fantastic companion to take with you when visiting the city. A great bedside table read to dip into at your leisure. Read morePublished on 25 Dec. 2011 by ninoanonimo
I'm a bit bemused by some of the negative reviews here. This is a real page-turner, in particular from Part 3, entitled Slaughterhouse City, I found the next 100-150 pages to be... Read morePublished on 13 Dec. 2011 by Mr. C. Morris
An engaging and at times humorous and dark look at the secret history of Paris, the history of this city as seen by the poor, the disposed, the criminals, the prostitutes, poets,... Read morePublished on 21 Oct. 2011 by Aussie Reader