All About History


A brisk approach to history perfect for the inquiring tourist


Author: Jeremy Black Publisher: Thames & Hudson Price: £16.99 Released: 21 March 2024

Paris, the city of light, love, beauty and romance, is also a city with a long history – and a rich one at that. Author Jeremy Black, who is no stranger to tackling broad subjects in brief formats (having previously authored A Short History of War and France: A Short History) now turns his attention to the fair city.

Black goes chronologi­cally through Paris’s history and demonstrat­es an incredibly rich knowledge of sources, frequently citing historical works of literature or first-hand accounts. Black occasional­ly interrupts his main text by inserting panels in which he will highlight a historical source: for example ‘Food for Tourists’, which spotlights a descriptio­n of Parisian cuisine by three visitors in 1699.

A number of black and white maps are also dotted throughout the text and there are two sections of full-colour illustrati­ons.

Given that Black is charting the entire history of the city in a short number of pages, it can feel a bit rushed. One only has to look at the chapter titles to gain a sense of how brisk Black’s approach is going to be, for example ‘The Seventeent­h Century’ occupies a mere 16 pages. This is not necessaril­y a complaint, after all the book’s intentions are made clear in the title, but for someone searching for something a little slower paced or meditative, this might not be it. However, for the visiting tourist wishing to know more about Paris’s rich past, this makes for the perfect read.

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