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Publisher's Summary

The intrigue began with a triple homicide in a luxury apartment building just steps from the Champs-Elyseés, in March 1887. A high-class prostitute and two others, one of them a child, had been stabbed to death - the latest in a string of unsolved murders targeting women of the Parisian demimonde.

Newspapers eagerly reported the lurid details, and when the police arrested Enrico Pranzini, a charismatic and handsome Egyptian migrant, the story became an international sensation. As the case descended into scandal and papers fanned the flames of anti-immigrant politics, the investigation became thoroughly enmeshed with the crisis-driven political climate of the French Third Republic and the rise of xenophobic right-wing movements.

Aaron Freundschuh's account of the "Pranzini Affair" recreates not just the intricacies of the investigation and the raucous courtroom trial, but also the jockeying for status among rival players - reporters, police detectives, doctors, and magistrates - who all stood to gain professional advantage and prestige. Pranzini's case provides a window into a transformational decade for the history of immigration, nationalism, and empire in France.

Published by Stanford University Press.

"An intriguing tale, told with insight...a good read about the great city in a time of transition." - John Merriman Yale University

"This well-reasoned analysis is eminently readable and accessible for those with absolutely no background in the period." - Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating history of late nineteenth-century Paris as it was becoming a cosmopolitan seat of a transnational empire. Its parallels with our own time are chilling." - Tyler Stovall, University of California

©2017 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (P)2017 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

From THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"Aaron Freundschuh rings the graveyard church bells for a refined, if corrupt fin de siècle world that passed away with a sigh. When the Paris police prefect got word in March 1887 of a triple homicide on the Rue Montaigne, he knew what he had -- yet another senseless murder of women from the Parisian demimonde. But this time attention had to paid, because one of the victims, Madame de Montille, was a courtesan belonging to "an ethereal rank" of kept women known for their professional skills and fabulous wealth. The level of butchery linked the killings to a series of unsolved homicides that began eight years earlier. Had Jack the Ripper not made his dramatic appearance a year later, Freundschuh convincingly argues, the courtesan killings would have entered into the historical annals." 

From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"The story of the investigation, Pranzini's apprehension, his eventual trial, and its dramatic resolution are enthralling, and the context for those events gives this work contemporary relevance." (STARRED REVIEW)  

"Reading like a thriller novel, this meticulously researched account goes beyond the fait divers by bringing to the fore a complex interplay of political and social forces in a changing city at a time when national identity was challenged."
--EuropeNow (Editor's Pick

"Ambitious and original, The Courtesan and the Gigolo is not only comprehensive, but timely."
--Urban History

"The Courtesan and the Gigolo presents a fascinating history of late nineteenth-century Paris as it was becoming a cosmopolitan seat of a transnational empire...Its parallels with our own time are chilling."
--Tyler Stovall, University of California, Santa Cruz 

"[Freundschuh] expands how we think about empire... The Courtesan and the Gigolo could easily serve as a model for what advanced students should do: research widely and deeply in the primary sources, then broadly contextualize the data and craft a well-written, compelling story, one that is enjoyable to read."
--History: Reviews of New Books

"Freundschuh's investigation of the Pranzini case stretches the limits of the genre...His concept of 'imperial insecurity' is a major insight that brightly renews our understanding of fin-de-siècle societies."
--Dominique Kalifa, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne 

"[A] thorough and engaging book, which has clear historiographical significance for historians of the press, crime, prostitution, race and empire."
--French History

"Freundschuh's careful reconstruction of the Pranzini affair both achieves and justifies its rescue from historical oblivion."
--H-France Reviews

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Interesting and Detailed Look at the Dark Corners

I was first attracted to this book because of the thematic similarity to "The Murder of Helen Jewett", which I had found very interesting. It does not disappoint. Although there is only 50 years difference in the events of each book, the cultural differences between New York (Helen Jewett) and Paris (this book) makes the contrast fascinating and shows how some things don't change (the media, for example).

The narrator has a very smooth voice but is a little ponderous and heavy at time. He does add a Victorian touch to the audiobook which is very welcome.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An Interesting Murder Tale

I downloaded this book thinking it was a period true crime thriller, it is in fact more of a text book. For anyone (like myself) who has an interest in history it is a great book.
It has been well researched and is full of little known historical facts. It is less about the murders and how they found the murderer, and more about the history and politics of Paris at the time, also a quite detailed history of the main characters.
The narrators voice is rich & smooth, and makes the book easy listening.
In summing up a book that is educational and very easy to listen to. Enjoyable.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well researched look into the past.

"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review." 

This book is a well researched look into the past and a past murder. The author goes into great detail about the murder and the events surrounding the murder. The narrator has a really good level of emotion and was easy to listen to. Honestly the only flaw I found with this book is the amount of detail he goes into describing the area around where the murder took place (Paris), and as I am an ignorant American. I had a hard time picturing where he was talking about. However, for someone more cultured than myself that shouldn’t be an issue. Despite that, I still found this book incredibly entertaining, and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Victorian era true crime / murder stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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good!

great narration for this intriguing murder mystery. well written and had me interested all the way to the end.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. The fact that I was gifted this book had no influence over my opinion of it.

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  • PHILIP CURTIS
  • 02-10-18

Awful narration of what might be a great story.

Terrible narration, devoid of feeling and gravitas. So many great voices available it is difficult to understand how this reader was chosen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful