- Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City
- Narrated by: Robert Blumenfeld
- Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 01-10-13
- Language: English
- Publisher: Audible Studios
Traditionally known as a dirty, congested, and dangerous city, 19th Century Paris was transformed in an extraordinary period from 1848 to 1870, when the government launched a huge campaign to build streets, squares, parks, churches, and public buildings. The Louvre Palace was expanded, Notre-Dame Cathedral was restored and the French masterpiece of the Second Empire, the Opra Garnier, was built. A very large part of what we see when we visit Paris today originates from this short span of twenty-two years.
The vision for the new Nineteenth Century Paris belonged to Napoleon III, who had led a long and difficult climb to absolute power. But his plans faltered until he brought in a civil servant, Georges-Eugne Haussmann, to take charge of the implementation. Heedless of controversy, at tremendous cost, Haussmann pressed ahead with the giant undertaking until, in 1870, his political enemies brought him down, just months before the collapse of the whole regime brought about the end of an era.
Paris Reborn is a must-read for anyone who ever wondered how Paris, the city universally admired as a standard of urban beauty, became what it is.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Neil Chisholm on 28-11-13
Why Paris looks the way it does today
This was an interesting book but not the easiest of books to listen to unless you had a map of Paris in front of you most of the time. I know Paris quite well but even I was sometimes confused and was grateful that Google Maps were there at my fingertips.
It certainly showed that Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann didn't lack balls, as to make the boulevards that Paris is now so famous for, they had to carve up medieval and historic central Paris to put in the much needed thoroughfares and to make Paris into a modern city. Really only a despot and a single minded administrator could do it and thank God they did. This is the story about how they did it.
I enjoyed it but the narrator wasn't the best - he had a strange accent (English clearly wasn't his first language), he paused in the middle of sentences, but his pronunciation of the French names of people, areas and roads were a delight to hear akin to music.
Recommended to those that are interested in Paris, Urban Planning and understanding French History from 1848 - 1870.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By JOHN A. on 19-08-17
How Paris became a special, beautiful city
This well written book has helped me finally understand how Paris got the special ordered, but also grand and charming, look that it has. The urban planning project called "les grandes traveaux" gets rooted in its historical, political contest, with focus on the Second Empire of Napolean III and his Prefect for Paris, Baron Haussmann. Having heard this book well read, I am now able to better understand the layout of boulevards and placement of iconic structures. I recommend this book for tourists like me, who want to enrich their time in Paris, as well as for others who approach its material from more abstract directions.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful