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In this luminous portrait of Paris, celebrated historian Alistair Horne gives us the history, culture, disasters, and triumphs of one of the world’s truly great cities. Horne makes plain that while Paris may be many things, it is never boring.
From the rise of Philippe Auguste through the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIV (who abandoned Paris for Versailles); Napoleon’s rise and fall; Baron Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris (at the cost of much of the medieval city); the Belle Epoque and the Great War that brought it to an end; the Nazi Occupation, the Liberation, and the postwar period dominated by de Gaulle—Horne brings the city’s highs and lows, savagery and sophistication, and heroes and villains splendidly to life. With a keen eye for the telling anecdote and pivotal moment, he portrays an array of vivid incidents to show us how Paris endures through each age, is altered but always emerges more brilliant and beautiful than ever. The Seven Ages of Paris is a great historian’s tribute to a city he loves and has spent a lifetime learning to know.
“Knowledgeable and colorful, written with gusto and love. . . . [An] ambitious and skillful narrative that covers the history of Paris with considerable brio and fervor.” —The Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Consistently bewitching. . . . [Horne] renders France unusually vivid by focusing on the one corner of it that millions of foreigners have toured or lived in or dreamed about.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Horne gives readers a wonderful sense of everyday life in Paris at every turn and displays a convincing understanding of the Parisian character." —San Francisco Chronicle
“A fluid, graceful, deliberate prose stylist. . . . Horne’s purpose is not to be encyclopedic but to paint a portrait, and this he does surpassingly well.” —The Washington Post Book World