At the start of the 17th century, Paris was known for a few monuments, but it had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like many European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. But within a century, Paris would be transformed into the modern and mythic city we now know. Most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the 19th century.
Joan DeJean demonstrates that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier, when the first full design for the French capital was implemented. During this period, Paris saw many changes: It became the first city to tear down its fortifications. A large-scale urban plan was created and executed, with organized streets and boulevards, modern bridges, sidewalks, and public parks. Venues opened for urban entertainment, from opera and ballet to another pastime invented in Paris, recreational shopping.
Parisians enjoyed the earliest street lighting and public transportation, even as theirs became Europe’s first great walking city. A century of planned development made Paris beautiful and exciting.
It gave people reasons to be out in public as never before and as nowhere else. It gave Paris its modern identity as a place that people dreamed of seeing. As Joan DeJean shows us in this compelling portrait of a city in transition, by 1700 Paris had become the capital that would transform forever our conception of the city and of urban life.
©2014 Joan DeJean (P)2014 Audible Inc.
For that reason, it's the worst audio book ever! There are apparently lots of maps and historical illustrations included in the printed book. When the narrator says "… as in the illustration…" you're out of luck. If I had known this, I would not have bought it.
The book was fairly easy listening, given the topic, but it made regular references to illustrations - to which I didn't have access. I'm going to read the book myself instead.
Bottom line: listen to a sample of this narrator before you buy.
I listened to this in preparation of an upcoming visit to Paris. The history of the city is fascinating and relevant. The author breaks up certain aspects of the city's development (e.g. building the Pont Neuf, development of Paris's fashion dominance) and talks about how each contributed to the Paris we know now--and ultimately, every modern city.
But wow, the narrator is absolutely horrendous. He reads every sentence with so much drama and superiority, you'd think he was actually trying to evoke the ridiculous stereotype of a stuck up Parisian. I am not sure why the narrator insisted on reading like that, because it doesn't sound natural and the text itself doesn't read like that at all.
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