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About the Book
This book traces the profound transformation of the City of Light during Napoléon III's Second Empire, as he and Georges Haussmann completely rebuilt Paris in less than two decades. Their breathtaking--and brutal--achievement was mirrored by dramatic social, cultural, and political changes, all brought to life through McAuliffe's evocative narrative.
Acclaimed historian Mary McAuliffe vividly recaptures the Paris of Napoleon III, Claude Monet, and Victor Hugo as Georges Haussmann tore down and rebuilt Paris into the beautiful City of Light we know today. Paris, City of Dreams traces the transformation of the City of Light during Napoleon III's Second Empire into the beloved city of today. Together, Napoleon III and his right-hand man, Georges Haussmann, completely rebuilt Paris in less than two decades--a breathtaking achievement made possible not only by the emperor's vision and Haussmann's determination but by the regime's unrelenting authoritarianism, augmented by the booming economy that Napoleon fostered. Yet a number of Parisians refused to comply with the restrictions that censorship and entrenched institutional taste imposed. Mary McAuliffe follows the lives of artists such as Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, and Claude Monet, as well as writers such as Emile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, and the poet Charles Baudelaire, while from exile, Victor Hugo continued to fire literary broadsides at the emperor he detested. McAuliffe brings to life a pivotal era encompassing not only the physical restructuring of Paris but also the innovative forms of banking and money-lending that financed industrialization as well as the city's transformation. This in turn created new wealth and lavish excess, even while producing extreme poverty. More deeply, change was occurring in the way people looked at and understood the world around them, given the new ease of transportation and communication, the popularization of photography, and the emergence of what would soon be known as Impressionism in art and Naturalism and Realism in literature--artistic yearnings that would flower in the Belle Epoque. Napoleon III, whose reign abruptly ended after he led France into a devastating war against Germany, has been forgotten. But the Paris that he created has endured, brought to vivid life through McAuliffe's rich illustrations and evocative narrative.
[A] wonderful and fascinating book. . . . Acclaimed historian Mary McAuliffe vividly recaptures the Paris of Napoleon III, Claude Monet, and Victor Hugo as Georges Haussmann tore down and rebuilt Paris into the beautiful City of Light we know today. . . . Napoleon III, whose reign abruptly ended after he led France into a devastating war against Germany, has been forgotten. But the Paris that he created has endured, brought to vivid life through McAuliffe's rich illustrations and evocative narrative.--Eye Prefer Paris
The re-creation of Paris from a medieval urban maze to the city of lights and boulevards comes to life in Mary McAuliffe's historical exposé . . . an enlightening and overwhelming story of a tumultuous and transformative Parisian period.--Foreword Reviews
Her reputation as a social and literary historian of Paris already cemented, McAuliffe returns with a detailed history of the City of Light and its nineteenth-century transformation into the sophisticated, envied capital. Its wide boulevards, monumental architecture, health-improving sewers and aqueducts, and efficient transportation systems began in earnest in the 1850's under Napoleon III and his chief urban planner, Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Before becoming Emperor, Louis Napoleon in his London exile already had formulated plans for extending broad avenues west of the Louvre. With Haussmann's skills at planning and at creating political will to action, the new Emperor created substantial parks on the city's outskirts and built conveniently situated train stations for the novel technology of rail travel. Razing tenements and codifying design for new apartment buildings, Haussmann constructed the cityscapes of Paris so beloved in the twentieth century. Urban elegance came at the cost of democratic rule as the former republic hardened into autocracy. Armchair historians in particular will appreciate McAuliffe's readable yet detailed history supplemented with illustrations and bibliography.--Booklist, Starred Review
If you want to know how Paris came to look as it does, read this book! Mary McAuliffe has written a thoroughly entertaining account of the politics and business behind Haussmann's famous boulevards. Weaving the lives of artists and writers into the tale of the city's transformation, Paris, City of Dreams is also a well-informed history of France's Second Empire and its inglorious end.--David Bellos, author of The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables
A brilliant social historian.--The New York Times
McAuliffe has an eye for the evocative, using quotes--and salacious details--to bring [Paris] to life.--Library Journal
McAuliffe's knowledge of and enthusiasm for this time is evident on every page.--Foreword Reviews
Rich with the flavor of words taken from primary sources, [Mary McAuliffe's books] provide an intimate look at the very human side of history.--New York Journal of Books
As the world's most magical city, Paris was created over the centuries by kings, emperors, and presidents, but, as Mary McAuliffe so magisterially reveals in Paris, City of Dreams, no one played a greater role in the modern configuration of this wondrous city than Louis-Napoleon and his chief urban advisor, Baron Georges Haussmann. Reading this masterful account, one realizes how Napoleon III and Haussmann transformed a city of narrow lanes, insalubrious dwellings, and staggering pestilence into a triumph of vital sanitation and unparalleled beauty, creating the broad boulevards and architectural masterpieces so universally admired.--David Garrard Lowe, president of Beaux Arts Alliance and author of Lost Chicago
About the Author
Mary McAuliffe holds a PhD in history from the University of Maryland, has taught at several universities, and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution, the Barnes Foundation, and the Frick Pittsburgh. She has traveled extensively in France, and for many years she was a regular contributor to Paris Notes. Her books include Clash of Crowns, Dawn of the Belle Epoque, Twilight of the Belle Epoque, When Paris Sizzled, and Paris on the Brink. She lives in New York City with her husband.