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on 18 February 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I bought it in order to get a different perspective on Paris, before I visit it for the first time. I felt like the author did some amazing research to find these unusual tales and then presented them in an interesting and enlightening way. I found myself researching some of the things he mentioned (eg La Boheme) even further, and has made me very excited to finally be going to Paris. I would definitely recommend this book
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on 22 January 2013
if you have read grahams other book "discovering france" this is your follow up! amazing knowledge both historically and geographically. could be a bit daunting to anyone with little or no idea of the layout of Paris. personally i have driven,walked ,sat, drank, eaten and marvelled at numerous sites robb describes in both books.
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on 31 July 2014
good read
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on 13 December 2011
I love this book as it has interesting little snippets and stories that aren't in the guidebooks. I have already read Graham Robb's book on French history and cartography and really find his style very readable.
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"For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust." -- Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 (NKJV)

Parisians is the most unusual look at a major city that I have ever read. Graham Robb knows Paris well for someone who isn't a Parisian and builds a verbal picture of the city through describing layers of change during which many things don't really change all that much. You have to use your imagination and a good sense of French history to fully appreciate the book. If you have only a slight knowledge of both, you'll probably be a little puzzled by the book. If you are a regular traveler, you'll probably find yourself wanting to visit the locales that he describes over the last two centuries.

Some of the book will seem gratuitous in terms of their shock value. I couldn't quite make up my mind about whether those parts could have been skipped.

In other places, the story telling is fascinating, and the contrasts are portrayed with winning irony that will amuse and delight most readers who don't have a political ax to grind. In that regard, I was especially pleased with the following sections:

- The Man Who Saved Paris
- Lost
- Restoration
- Files of the Sûreté
- Marville
- Madame Zola
- The Notre-Dame Equation
- The Day of the Fox
- Terminus: The North Col

The photographs in the book also add a lot of depth to the story-telling. Look at them closely!

The book's subtitle is a little misleading. Few of these little tales have the kind of adventure element that you would expect to find in a thriller. They are more often adventures in terms of being a sharp break from what had gone on before.

I would have liked a somewhat shorter book that omitted some of the less intriguing stories. I suspect that each reader will be drawn to a different subset of the tales. And that's good. This is my way of indicating that you may well like the book more or less than I did, and such differences would be natural for a book such as this one.

Bon voyage!
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on 26 January 2014
Total waste of time.Going to Paris next month and have learned nothing of interest to me.I am a painter and hoped the book would have more emphasis on art rather than criminals.One star.
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on 26 December 2010
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris

Not for everyone. For those interested in Paris, a very quirky history of some of it's most (and least) famous characters. Beautifully written and a joy to read.
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on 25 September 2010
The book got good reviews even in Holland. And Iam Dutch. So I bought it before visiting Paris. And it made the experience even deeper; understanding the history on topics common, but also on topics and people less known to me.
The english is not simple( TO a non native READER), but I guess it gives the book more style.
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on 17 September 2010
I live in Paris and love the city and was looking forward to reading this book. The first story concerned a young man visiting Paris and his first sexual experience with a prostitute. The story rambled on until the end at which it was vaguely revealed that the young man was Napolean. Well, it would have made the story more interesting to the reader if they had known this from beginning. The second story regarding the origins of the Catacombs was slightly more interesting and the third concerning Marie Antoinette's adventure in Paris was somewhat entertaining. However, it was downhill from there. I eventually gave up halfway through the book - which I rarely do. The writing is laboured and heavy and I found myself having to re-read pages just to get a sense of what he was trying to say. The chapter relating to old photographs of Paris provided the reader with postage stamp size photos from which you could recognise very little. The writer has some good material here but overall, it is too long and too wordy.
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on 2 January 2012
OMG, oh, my goodness, why would I give this account of Paris' history anything less than five stars? The sub-title of the book sums it up; it really is 'an adventure history'. There is nothing that detracts. Oh, wait, perhaps, a little more information on what exactly happened to Louis and Marie-Antoinette's escape.

The book is almost 'unputdownable' and whilst that does not necessarily indicate quality, I think Robb's credentials indicate that there are not likely to be many errors. We could do with historical accounts of other cities like this, not as per Edward Rutherfurd,i.e. interweaving fictional characters. Don't misunderstand. I quite like his fiction but would rather have more of the Robb oeuvre.
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