Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $16.56
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 52%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $16.56   
  • New (3) from $82.16   
  • Used (10) from $16.56   


Baron Haussmann, the famous “architect” of modern Paris, has been an enigma for historians for more than a century. But in Michel Carmona, the baron has found a biographer worthy of his fascinating and influential life. Haussmann is not, however, a book only about the controversial prefect of the Seine: Mr. Carmona has effectively set his life against the background of nineteenth-century European society. Exhaustively researched and written with remarkable balance, the book is as much a social and political history as it is a biography. We see Haussmann’s early years and his entry into civic life as an administrator; the problems of urban existence faced by the city of Paris; Haussmann’s reign as the designated chief of Napoléon III’s grand scheme for the renewal of the French capital; and the so-called ”Haussmannization” of Paris. Some observers today still see Haussmann’s grands travaux as the criminal work of a modern Nero—a man intent on destroying old Paris and willing to cook the books and throw poor people out of their homes in order to achieve his ends. Others see him as a clairvoyant creator of the modern, hygienic, and organized city, who created a style that would become a model for urban transformation. Mr. Carmona has examined the record and has written a superb biography that will be of special interest to architects, urban planners, and anyone interested in the life of great cities. With 12 pages of black-and-white illustrations.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Les Echos
An exhaustive and remarkably well-balanced book.
Michel Carmona recounts, with much clarity and mastery, the biography of Napoléon III's great prefect.
La Tribune
A particularly instructive look at the upheavals of an entire society and the description of a life occupied by service to the nation.
The Washington Times
Anyone who loves Paris, and never mind the Parisians, will enjoy this book.
Book Review Digest - Marie Marmo Mullaney
Comprehensive, readable, and meticulously researched, this is a sympathetic yet balanced biography of the architect of modern Paris.
Smithsonian - Joseph Harriss
Lovers of Paris will find Carmona's chronicle a treasurehouse of urban lore.
Jean-Philippe Dumas
Michel Carmona is full of sympathy and respect for his subject, and he successfully brings him to life.
Witold Rybczynski
This engaging book traces the potent mix of vision, power, and real estate that created the Paris that we know today.
Comprehensive, readable, and meticulously researched, this is a sympathetic yet balanced biography of the architect of modern Paris.
This engaging book traces the potent mix of vision, power, and real estate that created the Paris that we know today.
A particularly instructive look at the upheavals of an entire society and the description of a life occupied by service to the nation.
An exhaustive and remarkably well-balanced book.
Michel Carmona recounts, with much clarity and mastery, the biography of Napoléon III's great prefect.
Michel Carmona is full of sympathy and respect for his subject, and he successfully brings him to life.
Washington Times
Anyone who loves Paris, and never mind the Parisians, will enjoy this book.
Publishers Weekly
The notorious city planner for Napol on III, and prefect of the Seine region, Baron Georges-Eug ne Haussmann turned Paris from a still medieval urban area to a triumphant imperial city Haussmann makes New York's Robert Moses look timid by comparison. Haussmann believed in cutting across straight lines for wide boulevards, no matter what was standing in the way. He drove tens of thousands of poor residents out of the city's center and destroyed many ancient sites. Yet Paris did not follow obediently according to Haussmann's plans, and press campaigns, Carmona shows, finally made the public reject his work. In four main sections, Carmona, a professor of urban studies at the Universit Paris IV-Sorbonne (who has written untranslated biographies of historical figures like Queen Marie de M dicis and Cardinal Richelieu), provides a reliable survey in academic prose of the rich source material available about Haussmann. In a utilitarian rather than elegant translation, this new book can get lost in some fairly tedious detail, but it hits all the necessary marks and then some, showing, for instance, that for all his imperial obsessions, even Napoleon III was not enamored of the giant radiating grands boulevards that make Paris so terrifying for pedestrians today. (June) Forecast: This book's judiciously chosen bibliography (of titles mostly in French) is sure to aid further research, although it omits the main English-language study currently in print, David Jordan's Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann (Free Press), an informative political bio. Further English-language studies of Haussmann date back 30 years to David H. Pinckney's Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris and Anthony Sutcliffe's The Autumn of Central Paris. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Comprehensive, readable, and meticulously researched, this is a sympathetic yet balanced biography of the architect of modern Paris. Carmona (Sorbonne) tells the story of Haussmann's life and career through the prism of 19th-century European political, social, and economic history. He explains how the personal and political collaboration between Haussmann, who was the prefect of the Seine department, and Emperor Napoleon III facilitated the transformation of Paris from a medieval to a modern city. He explains in sharp analytical detail the vision and principles that guided both men, an analysis that will make this book of interest to students of urban architecture and planning as well as to French historians. Carmona is also frank in explaining why his subject remains so controversial. Autocratic and at times imprudent, he was seen by contemporary opponents as insensitive both to the "deportation of the poor" and to the class segregation that resulted from his ambitious grand plans. Nonetheless, Carmona concludes that his "authoritarian, pragmatic, and efficient" personality was necessary in planning and executing such a visionary project of urban transformation. Recommended for academic libraries and specialized collections. [For a view of Haussmann's role in modern Paris that is more about the city than the man, see David P. Jordan's Transforming Paris. Ed.] Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Attributing to Georges-Eug<'e>ne Haussmann (1809-91) the transformation of Paris from an unruly capital into a prestigious metropolis, Carmona (geography and country planning, Sorbonne, Paris) recounts his career as a city administrator appointed by Napoleon III in 1853. The original was published by Librarie Arth<'e>me Fayard in 2000 and translated from the French by Patrick Camiller. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A plodding but useful life of a man well known to French readers as the architect behind the great plazas, parks, and avenues of Paris. Georges Eugene Haussmann (1809-91) didn't come up with the ambitious 19th-century plan that leveled medieval Paris and put in its place the spacious metropolis familiar to moderns; the credit for that wholesale remaking belongs to Napoleon III, the real hero of this long narrative. But, writes Carmona (History/Sorbonne), Haussmann had the steely will such work required: "authoritarian, pragmatic, and efficient, he was concerned that there should be order in all things." And never mind the cost; he was so committed to the emperor's vision of a modern city free of choleric swamps and congested alleys that he tore down his childhood home without a second thought. Haussmann emerges here as a type familiar to any visitor to France: the consummate bureaucrat, convinced of the virtues of central authority, planning, reports-and, of course, of the righteousness of his ways. This self-confident vision formed early on, his biographer asserts, and owes much to an offhand remark Haussmann's grandfather once made to him: "We don't know well enough how many resources France contains and how rich and powerful it would become if it were well governed-above all, well administered." Haussmann filled the bill, ably overseeing the complex and at the time highly controversial work of resettling tens of thousands of people so that such marvels as the Place de la Concorde, Place du Trocadero, and Champs Elysees could be built. Though Carmona's narrative lacks the human interest of Robert Caro's life of Robert Moses, the urban leveler and creator to whom Haussmann is oftencompared, it capably depicts the man and his time. Of much interest to students of urban planning and modern European history.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566634274
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,571,596
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Michel Carmona is a professor at the Sorbonne and author of The Devils of Loudun and Richelieu.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Prince, Paris,

On September 24, 1848, a short, modest-looking man wearing middle-class dress stepped from a train onto the platform at the Paris "embarkation point" of the Northern railway. He was returning from exile, and his name was Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. The embarkation point has since become the Gare du Nord, while the main courtyard running along its front side is today called the Place Napoléon III. Here began the incredible adventure through which Louis-Napoléon, the proscribed Napoléon III, was transformed into the "emperor of the French people." Seven months earlier, on February 24, 1848, Louis-Philippe had in turn been forced into exile by the popular uprising that instituted the Second Republic, and in his London refuge he had perhaps come across the pale figure of the young Louis-Napoléon, then scraping a dubious living as general factotum for a rich lady. But whereas the one had been pondering the collapse of his reign, the other had lived in constant hope that a few twists of fate would carry him to France on the lofty march to power.

    Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte stood in the legislative elections of September 17, 1848, which the Second Republic expected to be free and democratic and to ground it upon a new legitimacy. The prince, as the election law allowed, presented himself in five départements: Seine, Yonne, Charente-Inférieure (today's Charente-Maritime), Corsica (where the imperial blood would tell), and Moselle. This multiple candidacy indicates how little chance he thought hehad of being elected: the French people did not know him; he was still subject to the exile order that Louis-Philippe had imposed on all members of the Bonaparte family; and a long-distance campaign from London seemed hardly likely to yield a favorable outcome. In the end, however, a virtual landslide in each of the five departments made of him the people's chosen representative.

    Exactly one week after the elections, the future Napoléon III was back in Paris. He had been there very little since childhood—just three or four times, and then only passing through. He still did not know whether he would be able to settle there for good, both because of the banishment order of 1832 and because he had no assurance that his fivefold election would be ratified. He stayed temporarily with one of his supporters, then moved to the Hôtel du Rhin, in the rue de la Paix, where he left his office on the mezzanine in the charge of the faithful Mocquard and took up residence on the first floor. Here he arranged his library of history books, military works, and treatises on political economy. One long roll of parchment seemed especially precious: it was a map of Paris, with zebra stripes of red, green, blue, and yellow that appeared to have been drawn at random.

    In fact, there was nothing random about the composition of that document; for years Louis-Napoléon had had the aim of restoring Paris to its imperial splendor. Soon after the son of Napoléon I, the Duke of Reichstadt, l'Aiglon, had died in 1832, Louis-Napoléon himself—the son of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense de Beauharnais, born on the night of April 20-21, 1808, in Paris and the first of the emperor's nephews—began to put himself forward as the successor to the empire of the Bonaparte family. On October 30, 1836, to shouts of "Vive l'Empereur!" he and his friend Fialan de Persigny, who called himself the Count of Persigny, tried to raise the Strasbourg garrison with the complicity of one of the city's artillery commanders, General Vaudrey. The attempted coup came to an abrupt and inglorious end, and Louis-Napoléon was placed under arrest. To avoid the media impact of a major trial, Louis-Philippe shipped him off to New York on November 21, but it was not long before he was back on European soil. First he went to Switzerland, to be with his dying mother in Arenenberg, then settled in London to prepare a new rising which, he was sure, would be backed by elements of the French army nostalgic for the empire. One of his English friends said at the time: "Nothing can dissuade him that he will one day be Emperor of the French.... He constantly thinks of what he will do when he is on the throne."

    The stage for Louis-Napoléon's second attempt was Boulogne-sur-Mer, on August 5, 1840. Once more the military coup was a failure, but this time Louis-Philippe reacted vigorously. The prince was brought before the Chamber of Peers, which on October 6, 1840, sentenced him to life imprisonment in a fortress of the realm. According to press reports, he stated to the court clerk who read the sentence: "Monsieur, in France nothing is for life." The prince was interned in the fort at Ham, in Picardy, where he was able to read, study, work, and publish. His time there—at the "University of Ham," as he later joked—was an intense period when his ideas acquired their final shape and the prisoner forged his image of a national savior. He had already published his Idées napoléoniennes in July 1839, and 1844 saw the appearance of L'Extinction du paupérisme, his most important work. Louis-Napoléon had a feel for the arresting formulation. Declaring himself a firm supporter of universal suffrage, he expressed his confidence in a top-down reformism driven by a real leader with extensive powers: "Today," he wrote, "caste rule is finished; it is possible to govern only with the masses." Or again: "The working class owns nothing; it must be given some property."

    Early in 1846, the prince asked to be allowed to visit his ailing father, the one-time King Louis of Holland, so that they could spend his final days together in his Tuscan retirement. When the government of Louis-Philippe refused permission, Louis-Napoléon felt he had no option but to escape. On May 25, having shaved off his beard and mustache, he dressed himself in the clothes of a workman, Badinguet, shouldered a wooden plank, and calmly walked out of the fort to catch a train to Brussels, then the boat to England. By May 27 he was back in London, accompanied by the dog he called ... Ham. Without a safe-conduct pass he could not make his way to Tuscany. His father's death there, on July 24, 1846, left Louis-Napoléon the first of the Bonapartes, the official claimant to the succession.

    The escapee from Ham, not in the least discouraged by the successive failures at Strasbourg and Boulogne, continued to prepare determinedly for his accession to power in France. His father's legacy saved him from financial disaster, and his liaison with the wealthy Miss Howard in London gave him the means to pay spies, journalists, and associates. Imbued with the socialistic philosophies of the age, and especially with the optimism of the Saint-Simonians, he dreamed of initiating major projects to create jobs and riches, of spreading progress through the development of industrial civilization. In L'Extinction du paupérisme he had written: "My friends are in the workshops." The prince sincerely wished to improve the workers' lot by eliminating the plague of unemployment and by raising wage levels. He was close to the high-minded men of the left who took power in February 1848—those who established national workshops to give work for all in the construction of a progressive future, and who, on May 3, 1848, issued a decree for large-scale municipal works in Paris. Louis-Napoléon did not, however, approve of their methods. While still in exile, he saw France as "a powerful country, full of wealth and resources but wretchedly governed." It would be hard to say he was wrong, given the spectacle of the badly organized and unmanaged national workshops that were sinking into anarchy. Starvation riots broke out in Paris and were followed by the bloody repression of the June Days of 1848, when the bourgeois order shot the workers en masse in the popular districts of the capital.

    June 1848 opened a fast route for the political ambitions of Louis-Napoléon. The prince had one element of superiority over the dreamers who were steering the country so badly: he believed in the virtues of organization. He was also convinced that the main problem facing France was the problem of Paris, of that effervescent, industrious city where misery existed side by side with luxury, and where the location of public buildings within a tangled web of narrow winding streets placed government at the constant mercy of the rifle. Three months later he was triumphantly elected.

    Napoléon III has been a little-loved figure in histories of France. The coup d'état of December 2, 1851, the fall of the empire in 1870 amid military defeat and the Prussian amputation of Alsace-Lorraine, the lampooning and abuse directed at him by such talented figures as Henri Rochefort and Victor Hugo—all this left an image of "Napoléon le Petit" as a prototype of the unscrupulous and unintelligent adventurer, an idiot who did France nothing but harm. His ability to remain in power for so long (from 1848 to 1852 as president of the Republic, then until 1870 as emperor) did not prevent French historians—ever since the military disaster at Sedan—from presenting his regime as a mere (though utterly dire) historical parenthesis. Only since the early 1960s has the Second Empire been given fresh attention and, in some cases, fresh appraisal. Historians, politicians, and public opinion have acquired a taste for the people and things of that age. Haussmann's urban projects, treated for decades as mindless butchery of the charming old city of Paris for no other purpose than the crushing of the working class, are again becoming an object of study and reflection, sometimes even a model.

The plan that Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte brought in his luggage to Paris on September 24, 1848, was a set of notes for his refurbishment of the capital, the four colors—red, green, blue, and yellow—corresponding to the urgency of various points in the program. Its guiding principles were intended to meet the requirements of movement, public hygiene, and elegance. When one thinks of the determination and the precise thinking that must have gone into the plan, one cannot fail to be amazed by its excessive and slightly deranged quality, as if it belonged more to the dream world.

    This feeling of disbelief, combined with the discrediting of the historical figure, explains why the role of Napoléon III himself in the transformation of Paris has been so often debated, challenged, or quite simply denied. We speak of "Haussmann's grands travaux," never of "Napoléon III's grands travaux." Victor Hugo ridiculed the emperor's supposed ignorance of the geography of Paris—and, of course, before his return in 1848 the prince's life had been almost entirely that of an exile. In Choses bien vues, published much later when he was himself an exile fighting the imperial regime, the famous writer even related: "Louis Bonaparte knows so little about Paris that, the first time I met him, at the de la Tour d'Auvergne, he said to me: 'I've looked for you a lot. I've been to your old house. So what is this Place des Vosges?' 'It's the Place Royale,' I replied. 'Ah! Is that an old square?'"

    Historians have emphasized the decisive role of Eugène Deschamps, head of the Plan de Paris (the official survey department), in tracing the new thoroughfares, or of Fialin de Persigny (minister of the interior under Napoléon III) in financing the projects—and later of Adolphe Alphand in relation to parks and plantings, Eugène Belgrand in relation to water services, or indeed Haussmann himself, as organizer and person in overall charge of coordinating the travaux. It is also true that the transformation of Paris had been on the agenda for a number of decades, and that the men of the 1848 revolution had already energetically promoted large-scale public works. But although the prince president—later Napoléon III—benefited from the experience of a huge number of previous studies, plans, and actual operations, it was still he who gave shape to a veritable program, chose the people to implement his "plan for the embellishment of Paris," and overcame the opposition and obstacles in its path.

    Haussmann, in his Mémoires, could not have been more explicit on this point. On June 29, 1853, the very day on which he was sworn in as prefect for the Seine department at the château de Saint-Cloud, Napoléon III hastened to take him into his study and to unveil his plans for the capital. These were summarized in "a map of Paris on which he had himself traced, in blue, red, yellow, and green according to their degree of urgency, the various new thoroughfares that he intended to have built." A few pages further on, Haussmann adds a comment that clearly shows the degree of the emperor's involvement in the work of transformation: "Alone, I should never have been able to pursue, nor especially to fulfill, the mission he demanded of me, and in the accomplishment of which his growing trust gradually left me greater freedom of decision. I should never have been able to wage a successful fight against the difficulties inherent in each operation; against the ill will arising from sincere convictions or from base and unavowed, yet implacable, jealousies within the great bodies of state, the government, and His Majesty's own entourage; against the open attacks from parties hostile to the imperial regime which, while not daring to target the political direction impressed on the country by the sovereign, tried to combat it indirectly in the municipal undertakings dependent upon his initiative and inspiration; unless I had really been the expression, organ, or instrument of a great idea conceived by him and for which I should give him the principal merit—an idea whose implementation he promoted at every moment with a firmness that never failed. All the opponents of this idea, acting in good faith or not, personified it in myself and so today I must recall that I was only the one who carried it out."

    This passage should not be ascribed to the pen of a prudent courtier, since Haussmann's Mémoires were first published in 1890, long after the death of Napoléon III, at a time when the only flesh and blood in the Bonapartist myth was a cousin of the late emperor for whom Haussmann felt both hatred and contempt. In that fin de siècle, when the Third Republic was paying open homage to the Paris prefect, Haussmann, no paragon of modesty, might quite easily have claimed the paternity that everyone awarded him. Why, then, should we not believe him when he says that it was Napoléon III alone who conceived and impelled the great enterprise? A similar view was expressed by another contemporary witness and participant in the venture, Charles Merruau, who was appointed general secretary of the Seine prefecture following the coup d'état of December 2, 1851, and remained in that post until his appointment to the municipal council in 1860. In his Souvenirs, first published in 1875, two years after the death of Napoléon III, Merruau writes: "The broad guidelines and the system [of the transformation of Paris] were already fixed in the prince's mind during the days of his presidency."

    The speech that Napoléon III gave at Paris City Hall in December 1850, when he was still only Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, president of the Second Republic, resonates as a declaration of faith: "Paris is the heart of France. Let us put all our efforts into embellishing this great city, into improving the lot of those who live in it. Let us open new streets, let us clean up the populous districts that lack air and daylight. Let the beneficial light of the sun everywhere penetrate our walls." Should we be surprised at this expression of interest in the modernization of Paris? All the sovereigns who ruled France, as well as the successive presidents of the Fifth Republic, have considered that the state bears a special responsibility in the affairs of the capital. Almost uninterruptedly for more than 175 years, from 1800 through to the law of December 31, 1975 and the municipal elections of 1977, the Paris administration was placed under a special regime that made the prefect of the Seine department the true mayor of the city.


Excerpted from Haussmann by Michel Carmona. Copyright © 2000 by Librairie Arthème Fayard. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Part I A Dedicated Administrator
1 The Prince, Paris, Haussmann 5
2 Haussmann Before Haussmann 13
3 Subprefect in the Age of the Bourgeois King 31
4 The End of Louis-Philippe's Reign 46
5 First Steps in the Second Republic 52
6 Prefect for the Var 72
7 From Auxerre to Bordeaux 88
Part II Paris, the City with all the Problems
8 The Frenetic Growth of a Capital 113
9 The Splendor and the Squalor 126
10 The Transformation of Paris: The Curtain Rises, 1849-1853 149
Part III Prefect for the Seine
11 Paris Gets a New Prefect 169
12 Haussmann in Control 192
13 Friends and Enemies 205
14 The First New System 216
15 Imperial Festivities 246
16 The 180-Million-Franc Agreement 281
17 Incorporation of the Suburban Communes and the Third System 308
18 Financial Difficulties 340
19 The Lion Grown Old 368
Part IV Haussmannization
20 The Ends and the Means 385
21 Modern Infrastructures 396
22 Public Buildings 407
23 The Golden Age of Real Estate 417
24 "An Epoch in the History of City Planning" 432
Appendices Maps of Paris 440
Chronology 446
Notes 467
Bibliography 477
Index 491
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)