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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)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.