Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: "Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarrel and Thomas Edison Became A Count" by Jill Jonnes

I read 2 books with Paris as a setting/main character back to back and I have to say this one was the clear favorite. You hear people talking about "If I could go back in time I'd go to (blank) so I could (blank)." I don't generally have an answer to where I'd want to go,but now I do! Paris for the World's Fair! (Well...maybe.It'd be in my top ten I guess, haha).

The book talks about several different people who were directly or indirectly involved with the fair. I have a tree worth of post-it notes in this book, there are so many interesting little tidbits of information that I want to share! But I'm not going to share all of them because then why would you read the book? So here's some favorites.

From that, do you know what's coming? Bullet points, yo!

Gustave Eiffel
-He made the Eiffel Tower! (SHOCK!) But he actually usually constructed railroads and bridges. I thought he was an artist or an architect, nope!
-He really didn't want elevators to run straight up and down through the middle of the tower so he had to work with the famous Otis elevator company to design elevators that went up the legs of the tower.
-He also did a lot of work on the Panama Canal, it didn't end well.

(Personal aside, when I went to Paris I saw the Tower and it earns that capital "T". It's not particularly lovely on the surface but all of the things and wonder and beauty that are connected to it is kind of breathtaking. I almost cried when it did the "all the flashing light sparkle at once" thing. I remember looking down from one of the platforms and seeing a soccer field with two teams playing and I thought it was a good reminder that Paris is obviously, a living, breathing, vibrant city where people live next to history everyday.

Annie Oakley and Bill Cody
-The Wild West Show brought Indians and horses and Wild West shenanigans right to the heart of Paris and they LOVED it. It was the hit of the exhibition.
- A baby was born to an Indian couple during the time in Paris
-Wild Bill always reserved a large section of the audience for the poor, or young soldiers or orphans. (Aww!)

The Artists
-Theo Van Gogh and Paul Gaugain died from tertiary syphilis, which sounds like an awful way to go. As Theo got sick he would "become disoriented, would destroy furniture in furious fits, he no longer recognized his wife". He died speechless and paralyzed at 33. Gaugain managed to spread this disease to several unfortunate recipients during his time in Tahiti. What a guy.
-Whistler was an egotistical a-hole.

Interesting tidbit
-The Herald, a Parisian newspaper got in trouble for running salacious personal ads. Here is my favorite."A woman finds paddling her own canoe dreary, seeks manly pilot".

I'm just gonna leave this picture here. Do with it what you will, hahaha

This book was incredible. It was like the most interesting history book you've ever read. It reminded me a lot of Erik Larson's books, he also focuses a whole book on a certain event and you learn so much about something you didn't even know about before.I can't recommend this book enough! It also made me want to go to France, which is bad. I don't have enough vacation time or travel funds for a random trip to France! I give this book 4 our of 5 stars. If you read it let me know so we can chat :)

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