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

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

by Jill Jonnes


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The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world’s fair that introduced it, by the author of Conquering Gotham and Urban Forests

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 Époque 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143117292
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 349,388
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jill Jonnes is the author of Eiffel's Tower, Urban Forests, Conquering Gotham, Empires of Light, and South Bronx Rising. She was named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 We Meet Our Characters, Who Intend to Dazzle the World at the Paris Exposition 1

Chapter 2 Gustave Eiffel and "the Odious Column of Bolted Metal" 15

Chapter 3 Troubles on the Tower 41

Chapter 4 "The First Elevator of Its Kind" 65

Chapter 5 In Which the Artists Quarrel and the Tower Opens 85

Chapter 6 Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley Triumphant 121

Chapter 7 Gustave Eiffel Holds Court amid the Art Wars 151

Chapter 8 The Monarchs of the World Ascend the Republican Tower 183

Chapter 9 In Which Thomas Edison Hails the Eiffel Tower and Becomes an Italian Count 205

Chapter 10 Rosa Bonheur Meets Buffalo Bill 243

Chapter 11 Afterword 271

Acknowledgments 313

Notes 317

Index 341

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Eiffel's Tower 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
cannonball More than 1 year ago
A truly enjoyable book filled with fascinating characters having fun at the 1889 Paris Exposition. The book details how Eiffel overcame waves of criticism to build the world's tallest building, and it visits Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show -an extravaganza across town that drew huge crowds. Thomas Edison also makes an appearance hawking his new, improved phonograph; and artists Paul Gauguin and James Whistler maneuver to have their paintings on display. The book is easy to read, and makes a great prequel to Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.
pgmetoo More than 1 year ago
In this book the construction of the Eiffel Tower is the lead story with the World Exposition for which the tower was built as a worthy companion subject. The stories are treated well with impressive research and interior pictures but there exists a disconnection, a lack of easy ebb and flow between the subjects. The information is plentiful and the prose is easy but the writing doesn't reach a thrilling or absorbing character. This book didn't become a page turning can't put it down experience. My three star rating is hesitantly rounded up from an average of two and a half.
DuctorCE More than 1 year ago
If you had a head for heights in 1886, you would not have been without a job. If you were American, you could have helped with the construction of the Statue of Liberty. An Englishman, Tower Bridge; but in France only Frenchmen could work on the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Today we tend to take these iconic landmarks for granted, but 123 years ago, they were modern marvels. This fact is not lost on Jill Jonnes in her highly detailed and beautifully written work, Eiffell's Tower. The 1063 foot tower was the tallest construction in the world until the Chrysler Building in 1930. Even so, it was the tallest building in France until the Millau Viaduct was built in 2004. The brainchild of Gustave Eiffel, it was intended to be the focus and centre piece of the 1889 World Fair at Paris; and it was. It did not start out that way however. Many were the critics and detractors particularly those who lived within its environs. Gustave Eiffell had to personally indemnify many in order to get the construction started. One demand of the authorizing committee was that all labour and material had to be French. This was fine until they needed elevators. The only company that could propel an elevator up over a 1000 feet, and bring it back safely, was the Otis Elevator Company of America. Jonne's description of the testing of the 'fail-safe braking' is breath taking. Eiffell's insistence of all things French, caused great consternation between the two companies, resulting in litigation. America, however, could not have been too unhappy with Mr. Eiffell as they used his Chief Engineer Maurice Koechlin to design and build the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty. One could be forgiven for thinking that 354 pages about a cast iron tower would be of interest only to civil engineers: but one would be very wrong. Ms Jonnes, has interwoven the practicalities of tower building with intricate details of the lives of celebrities who visited the World Fair and Tower. One is constantly intrigued by these snippets of information. Eiffle's Tower is a book that keeps on giving. The pace of interest never slackens even to the last chapter where Jonnes winds up the stories of the featured celebs. I highly recommend this work, and will seek out more of Jill Jonne's work.
Colorado_Native More than 1 year ago
Eiffel's Tower is an entertaining and educational trip through time. Meeting characters-some literally-like Eiffel, Thomas Edison, the Van Gogh brothers and the entire Buffalo Bill Wild West Show cast made this book a pleasure to read. Jill Jonnes is a good storyteller who does not lose the reader as the cast of characters expands as time and the event that ties them all together is never lost. I look forward to reading this book again in the future to pick up those tidbits I didn't find on the first go-around.
JoBee93 More than 1 year ago
It gave me quite a thrill to read this book in front of the ET. Because of Jonnes' vivid descriptions I felt as though I was actually at the fair! The book was so interesting, involving, and well-written that I had to ration my reading of it so I wouldn't inhale it at one sitting. I wanted it to last. Jonnes is a terrific storyteller.. the prose flows as though it wrote itself. I can't wait to read it again!
N-ruiz More than 1 year ago
I am a sophomore in high school, and was assigned to do a research project on Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes, talks about the hardships and struggles that Gustave Eiffel, a prosperous engineer, had to go through before building the famous Eiffel Tower. Before reading this book the only thing I knew was that he had the same last name as the Eiffel Tower. This book gave many details and went in depth about Gustave's life. I enjoyed the way Jonnes used imagery that drew a picture and depicted certain parts of France, in which I had never seen before. One thing that bothered me about this book is that it contains many details about construction, that it gets tiring while reading, but I did learn new terms that I didn't know before. Another thing that bothered me was that there were French words in this book, and I don't speak French, so I had to go on the internet and research it. I wish that there would have been a dictionary in the back, not only notes. This book was actually helpful in finding out facts about Gustave Eiffel, and overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to someone else.
Student-12 11 months ago
I am a student. The book was an amazing story that talks about to story on how the Eiffel Tower effected everyone and how it made France well. Gustave Eiffel had a hard time starting the construction of the Tower because many of the people did not like the idea of having a building the horrible looking that France would have a bad reputation. The construction began in January 28, 1887 and it was finished in March 31 1889 with only two death during the construction. Gustave Eiffel always cared for his workers making sure they received the right wage and care. While he was construction the tower he was also building the Panama Canal but failed because he didn't had the poison to get rid of the mosquitoes. He also was a Catholic. Many queens, kings, princes, and famous people like Thomas Edison who were marvel at the Eiffel Tower. The French planed to destroy the tower after but later said it would cost to much so they left it there. Gustave Eiffel also had five children and lose his wife in the year 1877 and he never remarried. He died on December 15, 1932 while listening to Beethoven's 5th symphony.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jill Jonnes' new book is Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count (Viking, 2009). It tackles each of those elements in alternating and intersecting narratives, not breaking significant new scholarly ground but telling a fascinating story about the 1889 Paris World's Fair and its characters. One of those characters was Eiffel's Tower, the iconic behemoth now instantly recognizable to us as the very symbol of Paris. Its design, construction, use and fate are the framework of Jonnes' book, but I liked the way she was able to weave in the human characters of the fair (from Annie Oakley to the Shah of Persia to James Gordon Bennett, Jr.), documenting their interactions with the Tower and with each other.Perhaps the most enlightening sections of the book for me where those in which Jonnes highlighted the great challenges which accompanied the construction of the Tower, from the debate over its design (many thought it hideous) to the technological difficulties involved (including how to create functioning elevators) and to the businesses it would house (numerous restaurants, plus a satellite office of Le Figaro which published a special edition De la Tour during the Fair).Quite a pleasant read, well enhanced with many photographs (interspersed throughout the book rather than plunked in a center section) and with reasonable source notes, even if these are not indicated in the text as they should be.
Matsar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eiffel's Tower is centered around the construction of the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 Exposition Universalle held in Paris and the subsequent people and events that took part in the Expsotion. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugain, James McNeill Whistler, and publisher James Gordon Bennett of The New York Herald are featured most prominently in the book.Very well written, entertaining and informative. If you enjoy reading about the 19th century you will want to check this out.
pbadeer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent "narrative" nonfiction read. The book covers not only the planning, controversy and building of the tower, but includes the other events of the 1889 World's Fair as well. The only reason it didn't garner a full 5 star rating is that some of the sections that "drifted" from the tower narrative seemed to go on a little long. Since they were interspersed (for the most part) throughout the building of the tower itself, I found myself wanting to get back to the construction/elevator engineering/lawsuits and "see" the tower built. While I think these side stories were added to break up the monotony of a single topic, but in the end, I think the author may have bitten off just a tad too much to cover in one book - clearly the story of Buffalo Bill's show with Annie Oakley could become a book on its own (that narrative took up a LOT of space). But overall, still a great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sophomore in high school and I had to read this book for an English research project about Gustave Eiffel. It was an interesting book to read but I didn’t like it because it goes in depth of the process of building the tower. The book explains more of the Eiffel Tower and the World’s Fair than of Gustave Eiffel’s life. The book included many other people that were also involved with the World’s Fair of 1889 such as Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill. The only thing I knew about him was his last name because I instantly thought of the Eiffel Tower. The book is very informative and goes into detail of the whole process of building the Eiffel tower. I learned from the book that he built many famous structures other than the Eiffel Tower. The book discusses all the hard work and difficulties that him and his workers encountered. The book contains a lot of information and history about the Eiffel Tower. I would not recommend this book if you want to research about Gustave Eiffel; this book explains more about the World's Fair containing little stories of Eiffel himself. Overall, this was a very informational book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore who did a research project using this book. The book contained many interesting stories and facts about Gustave Eiffel. Before reading this book, I did't know anything about him besides the fact that he created the Eiffel Tower. The book has plenty of quotes from Eiffel talking about his work. It not only explained the process of the Eiffel Tower, but his many other words. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a great book about how he grew up and started his process of the tower. I really enjoyed how Jonnes explained his hardships and how he got through them. After reading this book, I have way more respect for Eiffel himself. If you don't like reading about history, I would not recommend this book. It has a lot of history of the Worlds Fair and the Eiffel Tower. Overall, this was an outstanding book. (:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I read this book for my English research project. Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes is a well written book, that was easy to read. This book covers Gustave Eiffel and World Fair of 1889. The book also had the stories about Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison, and Annie Oakley. I liked reading about them, but I wish there were more stories on Gustave Eiffel. The book also mentions all the troubles Gustave Eiffel went through to create the Eiffel Tower. The book was also pretty long which makes you feel like you have been reading for a long time. But the pictures the book has gets you through it. Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes contains many dates and it talks about all the people involved with Gustave Eiffel which is very good information to have. This book also covers the personal and career life of Gustave Eiffel. Overall I would not really recommend this book if you are a procrastinator, but if you are not then this book would really help you learn about Gustave Eiffel.
m-gomez More than 1 year ago
I am a sophomore in high school and I am required to read this book for a reasearch project. In this Jill Jonnes mentions some information about Gustave Eiffel’s life. A part of the book that it seemed was boring and dull was when they were talking about Gustave’s friends lives and it also discusses the lives of people that went to the World Fair which I thought was not important. Another part that I thought was not important was when the book describes who was at the World Fair such as art dealers and Buffalo Bill who had a “French love affair” with the Wild West. The book also goes into depth about the workers’ lives that had worked on the Eiffel Tower. I mostly enjoyed the parts where it mentioned Gustave’s life and what he had to go through to reach success in the end. My favorite part of the book would be when  it would describe Eiffel’s life, his thoughts when he would be building his different works, his masterful achievements and even on his  personal life, which I thought was really interesting. The information that Jill Jonnes put in about Gustave’s personal life was inspiring and  motivating because it shared what type of life that Gustave had before the fame he got from the Eiffel Tower. Overall, this book was very informative and I learned a lot about Gustave’s life and his family and where he grew up. 
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This a terrific book--very entertaining & so well written.  While it's a history of the Eiffel Towers inception & construction, it is also a brilliant cultural of the Belle Époque.  I strongly recommend this marvelous book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a fascinating account of engineering and design feat...and Americans and Europeans involved with the tower and the world's fair.
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