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Publishers WeeklyFrench writers from Balzac to Voltaire have bemoaned the slow deterioration of Paris, and Hazan gladly joins the cry, aiming his jaundiced eye at the "tragedy" of modernization currently holding the city in its grip. Still, even as the radical author bitterly ponders the future of the City of Lights, he proves himself an engaging guide to the Paris he knows best: the heart of an intellectual metropolis rarely known to outsiders. Hazan's brick-by-brick account of the city's history of strife and political posturing is riveting, as is his back-story of every arrondissement, corner café, and street beggar (including his favorite). The chapter "Red Paris" points a knowing finger at the memento mori of Occupied France: "Thanks to plaques showing where those who were shot or deported lived and met, it is possible to sketch the outline of a Resistance Paris..." Moving backwards through history, Hazan also traces the roots of revolt through several generations of Parisian society, touching upon such figures as Tocqueville and Raspail along the way. Finally, it's the city's most loveable fop, Baudelaire himself, through who's eyes readers see the flop-houses, carousels, graveyards, and the Seine, a not always beautiful sight that nonetheless few will be able to resist.
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