City of Light : The Making of Modern Paris
by Christiansen, Rupert

1 Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire
2 Tne Problem of Paris
3 Marvels of the New Babylon
4 Pleasures of the New Babylon
5 Haussmann's Downfall
6 The End of the Second Empire
7 Paris's Civil War
Further Reading189(4)

Describes the ambitious public works program initiated in 1853 by Napoleon that transformed of the old medieval Paris of squalor and slums into the "City of Light" encompassing wide boulevards, apartment blocks, parks, squares and public monuments.

Rupert Christiansen has been writing about the arts for the Daily Telegraph since 1996. His many books include Prima Donna, Paris Babylon, and Romantic Affinities, which received the Somerset Maugham Award. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1997, he teaches at Keble College, Oxford and lives in London.

*Starred Review* Paris as we know it today, with its broad boulevards, majestic squares, and ornate apartment blocks, came into being under Louis Napoleon, who wanted to create a capital worthy of his nascent Second Empire aspirations. Employing Baron Haussmann turned out to be his master stroke, as Haussmann had engineering, financial, architectural, aesthetic, and political talents to bring off this massive undertaking. Author Christiansen focuses his efforts on illuminating Haussmann's personality, his remarkable intelligence, and his foresight. Haussmann thought not only about how Paris would appear but how it might function better, its municipal water and sewer systems becoming a model for all future city planners. Specific architects also changed the city's face, Charles Garnier and his iconic opera house the leading example. But Louis Napoleon stood pulling the strings and holding the power. Paris' reconstruction was one factor in his scheme to replace the nation's Second Republic with the Second Empire. His tactics now sound eerily familiar: restrictions on voting rights, tax reduction leading to deficits, appeal to oppressed classes. Good reading for all lovers of the City of Light. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A concise yet admirably thorough account of the reinvention of one of the world's great cities.Longtime Daily Telegraph arts writer Christiansen (Literature/Keble Coll., Oxford; I Know You Are Going to be Happy: The Story of a Sixties Family, 2013, etc.), who has won the Somerset Maugham Award, opens with the 1875 debut of architect Charles Garnier's opulent, ostentatious Opéra, the very emblem of Second Empire extravagance. But the real story begins decades earlier. Many readers think of Paris as a timeless museum of grace and beauty. In 1853, when French Emperor Louis Napoleon undertook a massive public works program under the direction of the brilliant but ruthless Baron Haussmann, much of Paris was, in fact, a fetid slum with a few sanctuaries of splendor. Inspired by the emperor's admiration for London's municipal works, cost (both monetary and human) would be no object. The author details how this campaign of leveling and building transformed Paris from curved form s into straight lines and broad vistas, creating almost as much upheaval as improvement. He gives due credit to Haussmann's key collaborators, demonstrating how an ideology of efficiency ruled and how a banking boom underwrote it—along with immense government debt. While giving voice to Haussmann's most ardent critics, who were appalled by his aesthetic and deplored the banality of the new Paris' thirst for amusement, Christiansen shows how many of the more sensible measures were social investments that benefited everyone, especially sanitation, the greening of Paris, and the educational reforms of Jean Victor Duruy. The author also showcases the influence exerted by an era of free trade and burgeoning technologies. He develops a crisply written narrative that moves from Louis' ascent to the presidency through France's disastrous war with Prussia, the collapse of the Second Empire, and the bloodbath of a Parisian civil war. Capsule character studies of Louis and Haussm a nn enrich an engrossing short history that reminds us of the urban planning and social engineering blunders we continue to make today. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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