In May 1995 Alain Corbin organised a conference on the history of the barricade, quite a novel departure at that time. Being asked to focus exclusively on one part of the insurrectionary process intrigued those of us invited to contribute.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.
Visitors to a new city, faced with a host of new sensations and sights, may find themselves wondering ‘How did this all get here?’ Pondering the origins of an established, yet amorphous entity like a city may overwhelm the average tourist, though it is an exercise familiar to historians.