Eiffel's Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris's Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It

Eiffel's Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris's Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It

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by Jill Jonnes
     
 

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The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it

In this first general history of the Eiffel Tower in English, Jill Jonnes-acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham-offers an eye- opening look not only at the construction of one of the modern world's most iconic structures, but also the epochal eventSee more details below

Overview

The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it

In this first general history of the Eiffel Tower in English, Jill Jonnes-acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham-offers an eye- opening look not only at the construction of one of the modern world's most iconic structures, but also the epochal event that surrounded its arrival as a wonder of the world. In this marvelously entertaining portrait of Belle ...poque France, fear and loathing over Eiffel's brash design share the spotlight with the celebrities that made the 1889 Exposition Universelle an event to remember-including Buffalo Bill and his sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and artists Whistler, Gauguin, and van Gogh. Eiffel's Tower is a richly textured portrait of an era at the dawn of modernity, reveling in the limitless promise of the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A colorful cast of characters descended on Paris for the 1889 World's Fair, and Jonnes (Conquering Gotham) offers an atmospheric overview of the celebrities who made belle époque Paris their stage during the memorable event. Annie Oakley amazed crowds with her precisely executed shots. Thomas Edison, a master at promoting both himself and modern technology, chafed at the leisurely French way of life, delighted the masses with his phonograph and chatted with Louis Pasteur at his institute. Paul Gauguin was enthralled by a troupe of Javanese temple dancers and miffed that the Americans only intended to exhibit 17 of his 27 etchings, while James McNeill Whistler, who delighted in provocations and feuds, decamped to the British, who displayed even fewer of his works. The fair's undisputed main attraction both at the fair and in Jonnes's account, was the controversial wrought-iron tower of unprecedented height that, Jonnes says, appeals for both its technological genius and its "aerial playfulness and charm." It perfectly embodies "the triumph of the modern" that Jonnes so well captures in her sprightly account. Photos. (May 4)

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Library Journal

With the 1889 World's Fair fast approaching, the French wanted a grand monument built to represent the greatness of their republic. The fair's commissioner chose Gustave Eiffel's design for a 1000' tower, but opposition and monetary considerations threatened to prevent the tower's completion in time for the opening day. In addition to a detailed account of the building of the tower, Jonnes (Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels) provides mini-biographies of several notable people of the time, including Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and Vincent van Gogh, while vividly detailing the visits of renowned personages to the fairgrounds, dissatisfaction among the exhibiting artists, the attractions and people involved in the 228-acre fair, and sites in other parts of Paris. Much of the book takes readers away from the World's Fair and thus the main focus, but these diversions help clarify the historical context. Recommended for students and informed lay readers.
—Donna Shuman

Kirkus Reviews
Popular historian Jonnes (Conquering Gotham: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels, 2007, etc.) explores the 1889 Paris World's Fair and its participants. Her central focus is the remarkable story of the Eiffel Tower, designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel. Made of iron and looming nearly 1,000 feet above the Champ de Mars, the tower was the tallest man-made structure of its time. Eiffel faced many challenges during its construction, including harsh public criticism of the tower's "soulless vulgarity," a strike by embittered workers and intense disputes with the Otis Company over delays and cost overruns involving the American-made elevators. The author's thorough yet pleasantly readable account contains a particularly thrilling description of one journalist's exhilarating early ascent with the tower's creator. Surrounding this story is a large cast of notable characters who were involved with the fair to varying degrees, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Paul Gauguin, William Bennett, Vincent Van Gogh, James Whistler, Annie Oakley and Thomas Edison. The interactions among them make for some of the most memorable passages, from Gauguin's attendance at Buffalo Bill's Wild West spectacle to the mutual admiration between Edison and Eiffel. The inclusions of Van Gogh and Whistler, while intriguing, are somewhat puzzling as their involvement in the fair was peripheral. Jonnes unearthed many firsthand accounts of these luminaries, and her portraits attach vivid human traits to figures often known mostly from textbooks. The author balances these interactions among individuals with consideration of the connections between the fair's principal participants, France and the United States. The allied nationswere embroiled in a tumultuous love affair, each enamored with the other's culture but wishing to prove its dominance. The Americans, including Edison, boasted that they would build an even higher structure for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. It never happened, and the Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest edifice for the next 40 years. Enjoyable history of one of the world's greatest monuments and some significant surrounding figures.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101052518
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/30/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
191,051
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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