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Paris: The Secret History


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About the Author

Andrew Hussey was born in 1963. He first went to Paris in the late 1970s, fired up by the punk revolution in his home town of Liverpool and with a thirst for anarchy and adventure. His first taste of Paris was busking in the metro- he was hooked. He has since lived and worked in Manchester, Lyons, Paris, Aberystwyth, Madrid and Barcelona, writing on the Nineties Parisian fashion for suicides, anarchy, radical Islam, art terrorism, Situationism, football, pornography and The Fall for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Andrew Hussey is a contributing editor of the Observer Sports Magazine, and Head of French and Comparative Literature at the University of London in Paris.


In this impressive, fascinating, and highly readable work of cultural history, Hussey (French & comparative literature, Univ. of London, Paris) traces the history of Paris in chronological fashion through the lens of the "underclass," i.e., what the 19th century called the "dangerous classes"-insurrectionists, day laborers, criminals, gypsies, prostitutes-and the "bawdy and rough" areas they called home. He dispels certain popular myths, showing that there has never been any such thing as a "typical" Parisian and that for its first 1000 years Paris was not a great or beautiful city. These two themes shape his history. Though Hussey eschews the salons of the Enlightenment, he nonetheless draws connections between "high" and "low" Paris, demonstrating how insurrectionary hatred and bitterness developed in the lower depths. His familiar stories of the 1789 Revolution, the reconstruction activities of Haussmann, and the passions of the Commune are enriched by his argument that palpable class and geographic divisions became a powerful psychological factor driving such events. This is a timely book, for Hussey observes that Paris is still being shaped by new arrivals who are playing a role in remaking the city yet again. Recommended for academic collections and large public libraries.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Outrageously readable ... a fascinating riot of a book Simon Sebag-Montefiore Fascinating ... A vivid sans-culottes history, from the street up David Starkey Magnificent and entertaining ... riveting -- Jason Burke Observer

The 16th-century French wars of religion were less about Christian theology than about who ruled France; centuries later the French authorities, aided by , a significant number of ordinary citizens "willingly and enthusiastically" sent tens of thousands of Parisian Jews to their deaths during WWII. In his sprawling, eclectic, self-indulgent and entertaining unofficial antihistory of Paris, Hussey (The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord), head of French and comparative literature at the University of London in Paris, tells the story of Paris from the perspective of the city's marginal and subversive elements insurrectionists, criminals, immigrants and sexual outsiders. Highlights include descriptions of the Pont-Neuf during the reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII as a cultural epicenter, a hangout for con artists and prostitutes, and a cauldron of antigovernment, antiroyal and antireligious activity. Hussey also tells of the "sacred geometry" of Notre-Dame as vivified by Victor Hugo. Also noteworthy in this overstuffed, unrestrained effort are Hussey's critique of former French president Mitterrand as "a master of double-dealing and double-talk whose only real loyalty was to himself and his position in power," and Hussey's take on the 2005 riots instigated by violent black and Arab suburban youths. B&w illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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