Graham Robb is one of our finest practitioners of popular geography, literally translated as “to describe or write about the Earth,” and his lush, densely detailed narratives of Paris are a delight to traverse. Parisians romps from 1750 to 2009, from the Metro tunnels to the Eiffel Tower, through eighteen fantastic, real-life stories set in France’s capital. These are stories you itch to repeat aloud—at a dinner party, on the phone to your mother, while staring into a mirror at your hairdresser. There are the notorious: Napoleon’s first sexual encounter, Hitler’s visit to the City of Lights, a glimpse of the love affair between Juliette Greco and Miles Davis. And there are the obscure: Guillaumot, the architect who constructed the catacombs to save Paris from giant sinkholes; the Black Prince, a motorcyclist rumored to have made the fastest ride ever around the city periphery; the bloody truth behind The Count of Monte Cristo.
(Nonfiction; Norton, 2010)