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Paris: A Short History

Jeremy Black


A concise history of Paris and the great events and personalities, from prehistory to the present, that have shaped its unique cultural legacy

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Once described as ‘that metropolis of dress and debauchery’ by the Scottish poet David Mallet, then as now Paris had a reputation for a peculiar joie de vivre, from style to sex, cookery to couture, captivating minds and imaginations across the Continent and beyond. In Paris: A Short History, Jeremy Black explores the unique cultural circumstances that made Paris the vibrant capital it is today.

Black explores how Paris has been shaped through the centuries from the first century BCE, when the city was founded by the Parisii. From a small Gallic capital conquered by the Romans, Paris transformed into a flourishing medieval city full of spectacular palaces and cathedrals, including Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame de Paris. During the illustrious reigns of Louis XIV and XV Paris became one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan capitals in the world, before the Revolution tore French society apart, changing the city forever. The Belle Époque brought new ideas and architecture to the city, including the iconic Eiffel Tower, before the destruction of the First and Second World Wars launched a massive regeneration project. Black completes his history by exploring present-day Paris and its role as the seat of a leading power on the world stage.

Black deftly demonstrates that the history of Paris is about more than a city: it is the history of a culture, a society and a state that has impacted the rest of the world through centuries of changing fortunes.

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'As a Parisian – whose family lived there for more than a century – and as an historian, I can only be impressed by how Jeremy Black has managed to grasp the spirit of Paris, not only in its glorious past, but also in the recent years, with their complex challenges'
Frédéric Saffroy, University of Lille

'An invitation to explore, to walk the city and discover hidden secrets'
Alan Forrest

'For the enquiring tourist wishing to know more about Paris’s rich past this makes for the perfect read'
All About History

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 21.6 x 13.8 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 38

Publication date: 21 March 2024

ISBN: 9780500027080

About the Author

Jeremy Black is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Exeter and the author or editor of over seventy books, including France: A Short History and The History of the Second World War in 100 Maps.