No-one knows a city like the people who live there – so who better to relate the history of Paris than its inhabitants through the ages? Taking us from 1750 to the new millennium, Parisians introduces us to some of those inhabitants: we meet spies, soldiers, scientists and alchemists; police commissioners, photographers and philosophers; adulterers, murderers, prisoners and prostitutes. We encounter political and sexual intrigues, witness real and would-be revolutions, assassination attempts and several all too successful executions; we visit underground caverns and catacombs, enjoy the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, are there for the opening of the Metro, accompany Hitler on a flying visit to the French capital – and much more besides.
Entertaining and illuminating, and written with Graham Robb’s customary attention to detail – and, indeed, the unusual – Parisians is both history and travel guide, yet also part memoir, part mystery. A book unlike any other, it is at once a book to read from cover to cover, to lose yourself in, to dip in and out of at leisure, and a book to return to again and again – rather like the city itself, in fact.