This book is one of a series entitled The Making of Europe, which aims 'to address crucial aspects of European history in every field - political, economic, social, religious, and cultural' (p. xii).
Never mind the cover (lovely though it is). Readers who are fast to judge and slow to think will be tempted to judge this book by its title alone. What, they will want to ask, could Patrice Higonnet possibly mean by calling Paris ‘capital of the world?’ Does the world have a capital? Since when has it been located in Paris?
Leif Jerram’s Germany’s Other Modernity: Munich and the Making of Metropolis, 1895–1930 is a rich and welcome contribution to the urban history of modern Germany, a field which has, for some time now, been dominated by studies on Berlin and Hamburg. Berlin has, as Jerram puts it with little exaggeration, acquired ‘totemic status’ (p.
This text book aims to cover 150 years of European history from a perspective which desperately needs coverage: the perspective of the city.
In the words of its author, this engaging book ‘tells of the shadows of objects and of images in the brain and, as such, of the only realities that cannot entirely escape from appropriation’ (p. ix). The object in question is Florence, understood both as a material place and as a mythical construction.
Over the past generation of scholarship, the history of consumption and material culture has emerged as a rich subfield of European history.
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.
The sub-title says it all. This is a book about the elites of Belle Epoque Paris, primarily about the cultural elites, but also about their patrons, high society, industrialists and fashion designers, and all those who made the headline contributions to that Paris which sticks in the popular imagination.