counter create hit Paris at the End of the World: How the City of Lights Soared in Its Darkest Hour, 1914-1918 - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Paris at the End of the World: How the City of Lights Soared in Its Darkest Hour, 1914-1918

Availability: Ready to download

A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city’s history. From 1914 through 1918 the terrifying sounds of World War I could be heard from inside the French capital. For four years, Paris lived under constant threat of destruction. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more bri A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city’s history. From 1914 through 1918 the terrifying sounds of World War I could be heard from inside the French capital. For four years, Paris lived under constant threat of destruction. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more brightly than ever. It’s taxis shuttled troops to the front; its great railway stations received reinforcements from across the world; the grandest museums and cathedrals housed the wounded, and the Eiffel Tower hummed at all hours relaying messages to and from the front. At night, Parisians lived with urgency and without inhibition. Artists like Pablo Picasso achieved new creative heights. And the war brought a wave of foreigners to the city for the first time, including Ernest Hemingway and Baxter’s own grandfather, Archie, whose diaries he used to reconstruct a soldier’s-eye view of the war years. A revelatory achievement, Paris at the End of the World shows how this extraordinary period was essential in forging the spirit of the city beloved today.


Compare

A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city’s history. From 1914 through 1918 the terrifying sounds of World War I could be heard from inside the French capital. For four years, Paris lived under constant threat of destruction. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more bri A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city’s history. From 1914 through 1918 the terrifying sounds of World War I could be heard from inside the French capital. For four years, Paris lived under constant threat of destruction. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more brightly than ever. It’s taxis shuttled troops to the front; its great railway stations received reinforcements from across the world; the grandest museums and cathedrals housed the wounded, and the Eiffel Tower hummed at all hours relaying messages to and from the front. At night, Parisians lived with urgency and without inhibition. Artists like Pablo Picasso achieved new creative heights. And the war brought a wave of foreigners to the city for the first time, including Ernest Hemingway and Baxter’s own grandfather, Archie, whose diaries he used to reconstruct a soldier’s-eye view of the war years. A revelatory achievement, Paris at the End of the World shows how this extraordinary period was essential in forging the spirit of the city beloved today.

30 review for Paris at the End of the World: How the City of Lights Soared in Its Darkest Hour, 1914-1918

  1. 5 out of 5

    Felix Hayman

    Paris at the end of the World is subtitled The City of Light during the Great Well, this is not really about The City of Light or the end of La belle epoque.In fact, it is a memoir of the author's search for his grandfather during The Great War. As an Australian I was interested to read his journey to discovery but I kept asking myself, what the hell has this to do with Paris 1914-1918?It is not really a social history of the place and time and not really a history of The Great War, it is more a Paris at the end of the World is subtitled The City of Light during the Great Well, this is not really about The City of Light or the end of La belle epoque.In fact, it is a memoir of the author's search for his grandfather during The Great War. As an Australian I was interested to read his journey to discovery but I kept asking myself, what the hell has this to do with Paris 1914-1918?It is not really a social history of the place and time and not really a history of The Great War, it is more a history of the author.It seemed every time he would stray into The City of Light he would start to wander back to the discovery of his grandfather's past, not in Paris. For most people this would be an annoyance (and can be seen in some reviews) but I must be of a more lighthearted nature as I quite enjoyed this "free ramble" on The Great War. Look, if you want a history of The Great War in Paris go to a better social historian like Mary Mcauliffe or Joan deJean. I would suggest to the publishers of this book that they "rebrand" it for later editions..It really didn't convince me.....

  2. 5 out of 5

    Les Romantiques

    Reviewed by Agnès Review Copy from the Publisher A very strange book. Obviously I didn’t get it, or I was not the target audience, or something is terribly rotten in the state of Denmark, because all I can say is : WHAT was it about ??? First of all, I thought it was a novel. Well, it’s not, which wouldn’t be terribly wrong per se. But then I thought it was about the first world war, too. It’s not either, the war is just a far, far background. We have a glimpse of it at the beginning of the book, Reviewed by Agnès Review Copy from the Publisher A very strange book. Obviously I didn’t get it, or I was not the target audience, or something is terribly rotten in the state of Denmark, because all I can say is : WHAT was it about ??? First of all, I thought it was a novel. Well, it’s not, which wouldn’t be terribly wrong per se. But then I thought it was about the first world war, too. It’s not either, the war is just a far, far background. We have a glimpse of it at the beginning of the book, with well known anecdotes like the “taxis de la Marne”, but then the author wanders somewhere else, never to return. And finally I thought it was about Paris… by now you understand I was also disappointed in this respect. Then what WAS it about ??? Well… Jean Cocteau and his gay pals. The author seems to have an obsession for him, because I don’t quite understand why he is such a recurring character in this book. Admittedly, he is a great figure of the Parisian life and it could have been interesting to focus on this microcosm of “l’arrière”, which was such a source of bitterness for soldiers when they came back from “le front” and discovered that Paris was still gay Paris, while thousands of their brothers in arms died in the mud. It’s hinted at, but two or three anecdotes about Cocteau and an imaginary episode are not enough to create anything of interest. It was a major disappointment for me, because I would have loved to read more about it, especially about the foreign community (Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Hemingway, Edith Wharton, etc.). The author’s Australian grandfather who volunteered to fight in Europe… but, in fact, never did. Same big disappointment. That would have been very interesting if, say, he didn’t spend all his war time in England, in a hospital, because it was discovered before he could do anything more than set a foot in Paris that he had to have an operation for varicose veins. Duh? Are you kidding me? The author makes a great fuss about finding ALL his wartime file!!! Wow! Where he (and we) learn only the name of the ship he embarked on. End of the story, nothing more to expect. The end is so anticlimactic it’s kind of a joke: the author can only imagine why his grandfather repeated mysterious things like “The city of darkness” or “Ca ne fait rien”, because he (and we) never learned anything about what his grandfather did during his stay in Europe. The author’s life in Paris with his French wife. I understand that for American readers, this part may seem exotic and interesting, but it also felt a lot like fill in, to conceal the lack of material concerning the past. There’s even the strangest story about how he met his editor, who happened to kill his wife shortly after, then naturally proceeded to saw her limbs and transport her in a suitcase to a place where he could bury her. I failed to understand how this gruesome incident was of any relevance to a book about Paris during “La grande guerre”. In the end, Paris at the end of the world is reminiscent of literary biographical endeavors such as A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust, based on an enjoyable writing style and the assumption that every little thing that happens in the author’s life (or in his head) will be of interest to readers. It can also be seen as grasping at straws, or madeleines in Proust’s case.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hayden Trenholm

    I was disappointed by this book -- not entirely by John Baxter but by the editor, publisher and marketing department which sold this book as something it wasn't. This book is a lot of things but the story of Paris during WWI is not one of them. Rather it is a series of anecdotes about Paris (yes, part of the book is set there), Australia, England, the rest of Europe -- and only partly set in the period of 1914-18. In fact a significant part revolves around the author's search for the truth around I was disappointed by this book -- not entirely by John Baxter but by the editor, publisher and marketing department which sold this book as something it wasn't. This book is a lot of things but the story of Paris during WWI is not one of them. Rather it is a series of anecdotes about Paris (yes, part of the book is set there), Australia, England, the rest of Europe -- and only partly set in the period of 1914-18. In fact a significant part revolves around the author's search for the truth around his unremarkable and largely unremarked grandfather (dead by the time John Baxter is seven). More than anything this is a story about John Baxter himself -- his concerns and the things that draw his eye. Few of the anecdotes will be new to anyone with a basic familiarity with Paris of the period. The commentary is thin at best and does little to illuminate the city of light. The saving grace: Baxter is a good writer and a fine storyteller and some of the pictures have seldom been seen. If you really want to know about Paris or the Great War, there are plenty of books that will do it better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This is a whimsical little book that is not what it appears. It is not necessarily about Paris, although she plays a large part in the book, but rather a look at the effect war had on the artistic and social life in Paris and London. As well, it is the author's search for his grandfather's service with the Anzac forces during the Great War. So the title is extremely misleading, although once I got started, I was not complaining. Each chapter is a vignette of something or someone that set the fash This is a whimsical little book that is not what it appears. It is not necessarily about Paris, although she plays a large part in the book, but rather a look at the effect war had on the artistic and social life in Paris and London. As well, it is the author's search for his grandfather's service with the Anzac forces during the Great War. So the title is extremely misleading, although once I got started, I was not complaining. Each chapter is a vignette of something or someone that set the fashion and entertainment of the time, and touches on events and attitudes of the population. This is interspersed with the present day search for his grandfather's history by the author and the interesting people he met on his travels. We also get a look at the troops in the trenches on the Western Front and the horror that surrounded them. It is a quirky book which held my interest throughout its short 183 pages.

  5. 4 out of 5

    LillyBooks

    Even though I liked reading this book, I don't think it knew that it was about. What it about the heady, hedonist days of frivolity in Paris during WWI, as the title states? Yes and no. Was it about the terror and shortages and fear of living forty miles from the front line during WWI, the opposite of what the title states? Yes and no. Was it not about Paris at all, but rather a brief history of WWI? Yes and no. Was it about the author's grandfather's service in the Australian army during WWI? Y Even though I liked reading this book, I don't think it knew that it was about. What it about the heady, hedonist days of frivolity in Paris during WWI, as the title states? Yes and no. Was it about the terror and shortages and fear of living forty miles from the front line during WWI, the opposite of what the title states? Yes and no. Was it not about Paris at all, but rather a brief history of WWI? Yes and no. Was it about the author's grandfather's service in the Australian army during WWI? Yes and no. Was it about the author's search for that history, recreating those journeys not in Paris, but in England? Yes and no. I enjoy Baxter's writing style, and I especially enjoyed the little tidbits of random history that don't usually appear in a historical work. But it meandered a bit too much and would have benefited from a clearer vision.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    'Paris at the End of the World is not really a historical work so much as a string of anecdotes (personal and historical), strung together with pictures. It reminded me somewhat of a scrapbook, in fact. As long as the reader isn’t expecting a work of thorough historical scholarship, it is enjoyable and entertaining. I got some great anecdotes from it to drop into conversation. Yes, I make small talk about the massive gun used to bombard Paris during WWI, what of it? Although there is an element 'Paris at the End of the World is not really a historical work so much as a string of anecdotes (personal and historical), strung together with pictures. It reminded me somewhat of a scrapbook, in fact. As long as the reader isn’t expecting a work of thorough historical scholarship, it is enjoyable and entertaining. I got some great anecdotes from it to drop into conversation. Yes, I make small talk about the massive gun used to bombard Paris during WWI, what of it? Although there is an element of family history involved, this forms the least interesting part of the book. I was far more intrigued by tales of artistic shenanigans in Paris and the origins of slang terms like plonk, Blighty, and poilu. The most memorable matter, however, was the aforementioned Paris Gun, which had a range of 40 miles, took ammunition 10ft long, and fired only 367 shells before it wore out. Perhaps the fascination of this ridiculous weapon is that it could only have been used (albeit briefly) in a war with barely-moving lines. Such a thing would have been of no use in WWII, as it was easy for the enemy to find, very difficult to move, and by that time transport technology had made armies maneuverable. I don’t think this book really transports the reader to Paris in 1914, as is perhaps the intention, because it isn’t thorough enough for that. Snapshots of certain incidents, locations, and personages of the time are provided, however, which are diverting enough. It also retains a remarkable and somewhat inappropriate light-hearted tone for a book about the First World War.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    Until I opened this book, I half expected a narrative focused on Joseph Gallieni's organization of the defense of Paris. As other reviewers have pointed out -- not even close. Author John Baxter, an Australian-born Paris resident, presents a series of WWI Paris researches and vignettes, connected only by time, location and his efforts to uncover a history of his Grandfather -- an Aussie soldier who spent time in wartime Paris. Baxter's focus is on salons, artists, writers, brothels, fashions, war Until I opened this book, I half expected a narrative focused on Joseph Gallieni's organization of the defense of Paris. As other reviewers have pointed out -- not even close. Author John Baxter, an Australian-born Paris resident, presents a series of WWI Paris researches and vignettes, connected only by time, location and his efforts to uncover a history of his Grandfather -- an Aussie soldier who spent time in wartime Paris. Baxter's focus is on salons, artists, writers, brothels, fashions, wartime behaviors and attitudes of the rich, artistic and ex-pat communities. Some of these characters died heroically. Others struggled to find connections to the war which preserved their personal independence. Still others tried, increasingly unsuccessfully, to preserve a lifestyle which insulated them from the conflict altogether. The cast is populated with the likes of Jean Cacteau, Pablo Picasso, Eric Satie, Ernest Hemingway, with cameos and mentions by/of George Gershwin, Toulouse-Letrec, Maurice Ravel, Walt Disney, Marlene Dietrich, Cole Porter, Marcel Proust and many others. Caveat: Parts of this book are brilliantly written. These are the parts that redeem the book as a worthy read. Other parts seem to be sparse on "connecting tissue" requiring re-reads to figure out to whom pronouns refer, etc. Overall, I enjoyed the book, learned a great deal about the "personality" of Paris and a bit about human nature under the influence of protracted war. It is unusual and colorful enough to get my 4 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I was looking for a book in English about life in Paris during World War 1. There's surprisingly little available on the subject at all. Having said that this was an odd read. It did give me a good sense of how strange things were in the city of Paris during WWI and how little the war impacted the city's pre-war hedonistic ways. However, the book was inter-spaced with the authors research into his Australian grandfather's WWI experiences. The two subjects sit uneasily together. The book does giv I was looking for a book in English about life in Paris during World War 1. There's surprisingly little available on the subject at all. Having said that this was an odd read. It did give me a good sense of how strange things were in the city of Paris during WWI and how little the war impacted the city's pre-war hedonistic ways. However, the book was inter-spaced with the authors research into his Australian grandfather's WWI experiences. The two subjects sit uneasily together. The book does give a foreigners eyeview of the city as well as a result and I learnt much about Australian troops in Europe during this period that I hadn't read about before....but this section of the book could easily have been left out and I think you'd have more coherent - though not exhaustive look at Paris during this period. What this book does show is that this topic still has a lot to be mined for interesting stories. I'm not sure if this book deserves 3 or 4 stars but its a fairly quick and easy read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Dornell

    I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky little book. John Baxter, an Australian who has lived in Paris for 20 years, explores how the First World War affected not only his adopted city but also his Aussie grandfather who enlisted in the ANZAC forces. Most delightful was the colorful cast of characters, many of whom are well known but not, perhaps, for their war efforts. (Did you know that Jean Cocteau was an ambulance driver?) If you're looking for a history of the conflict, this isn't it. It's more a c I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky little book. John Baxter, an Australian who has lived in Paris for 20 years, explores how the First World War affected not only his adopted city but also his Aussie grandfather who enlisted in the ANZAC forces. Most delightful was the colorful cast of characters, many of whom are well known but not, perhaps, for their war efforts. (Did you know that Jean Cocteau was an ambulance driver?) If you're looking for a history of the conflict, this isn't it. It's more a cultural exploration of how the war influenced fashion and theatre, dinner parties and love affairs. Plus the personal story of Baxter learning more about his grandfather. Short, unusual, a quick read but lively and fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    What begins as a spirited look at Paris in 1914 becomes a cul-de-sac of sorts: the reader is teased into following a story about the author's grandfather that goes nowhere, More irritating is Baxter's dismissiveness of the French artists and magazine writers when they portrayed the Germans army as a savage force ravaging Belgium and other nations. What were they supposed to do? This Monday-morning quarterbacking put me off, as did the descriptions of what went on in Parisian brothels: Baxter see What begins as a spirited look at Paris in 1914 becomes a cul-de-sac of sorts: the reader is teased into following a story about the author's grandfather that goes nowhere, More irritating is Baxter's dismissiveness of the French artists and magazine writers when they portrayed the Germans army as a savage force ravaging Belgium and other nations. What were they supposed to do? This Monday-morning quarterbacking put me off, as did the descriptions of what went on in Parisian brothels: Baxter seems to get a thrill in describing some pretty indescribable fetishes. This is one of those books that, if someone took it away from you and you had a paragraph left, you'd shrug and pick up something else to read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Somewhere along the line, John Baxter's Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 stops being so much about Paris and starts being much more about Baxter's own search for the records, and more importantly experiences, of his paternal grandfather, Archie. Here's the deal: I love Paris. And I'm very interested in World War I. I have a much harder time investing myself in why an author's grandfather might have enlisted 100 years ago (to escape an uncomfortable Somewhere along the line, John Baxter's Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 stops being so much about Paris and starts being much more about Baxter's own search for the records, and more importantly experiences, of his paternal grandfather, Archie. Here's the deal: I love Paris. And I'm very interested in World War I. I have a much harder time investing myself in why an author's grandfather might have enlisted 100 years ago (to escape an uncomfortable domestic situation, Baxter ultimately surmises), retracing said soldier's steps from eastern Australia to western Europe, uncovering his medical history (oh the banality of varicose veins!), and then hypothesizing on how he got to Paris and who he might have met. Unfortunately, I was not much more impressed with the Paris parts of the book. The section on Gallieni's use of Paris's taxicabs to transport French troops to the front was likely the most interesting, although that particular story is pretty well known. I take that back - the very most interesting bit concerns the drug kit containing "cocaine, morphine, syringes, and needles" sold by Harrod's and marketed as a "welcome present for friends at the front." Indeed. In any case, Harrod's stopped selling the kit, along with vials of heroin gel, after the British government restricted sale because those same friends at the front were too stoned to go "over the top." Ultimately, the best of Paris at the End of the World are the myriad images, from old photographs to wartime to postcards and magazine illustrations, that are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. These, along with the various long-forgotten quotes and ditties (such as the riff on La Marseillaise, "Aux gares, citoyens / Montez dans les wagons") are the strength of Paris at the End of the World. Even so, more complete and in-depth books on World War I Paris are available; this one is probably best left to those seeking every perspective on wartime Paris, including that of a long-dead Australian soldier.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Max Tachis

    Filled with short chapters, swift prose, and a bevy of interesting and obscure factoids, "Paris at the End of the World" serves the reader best as a terrific travel book. It reads fast. It's fun. It's fascinating. It felt like the literary equivalent of a photo album; a collection of quick glimpses at specific moments or places in time. Beyond that, though, it doesn't offer the reader a much else. Baxter builds a great portrait of Paris (and a bit of Europe as a whole) from 1914-1918, but isn't a Filled with short chapters, swift prose, and a bevy of interesting and obscure factoids, "Paris at the End of the World" serves the reader best as a terrific travel book. It reads fast. It's fun. It's fascinating. It felt like the literary equivalent of a photo album; a collection of quick glimpses at specific moments or places in time. Beyond that, though, it doesn't offer the reader a much else. Baxter builds a great portrait of Paris (and a bit of Europe as a whole) from 1914-1918, but isn't able to fill it with anything particularly substantial. It is a collection of tales and anecdotes, which is enjoyable but certainly isn't deep. We get to follow Jean Cocteau for a bit as he embarks on a new opera spectacular with Picasso. We learn a bit about the chaotic art of French magazine publishing and political cartoons. We get to know some of the more well-known military personalities on the French side of the war... a bit. All engaging, well-researched, and, unfortunately, superficial. This book isn't a deep dive. One of the most interesting elements of this book, however, is the small through-line of Baxter himself trying to uncover more information about his grandfather, Archie, who served in WWI. He enlisted out of Australia and nearly didn't come back and that's all Baxter's family has ever really known. What felt primed to become a gonzo historical detective story takes up only a very small portion of the book and ends without resolution. Now, that isn't Baxter's fault; that's life. But even without a dramatic uncovering of hidden family truths, the actual searching was very interesting to follow. I would've loved more of it, regardless of the nature of the end. Frankly, "I would've loved more of it" pretty much sums up my experience with this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    R.

    This is not a book about Paris at the end of the world. There are some promising bits in front which actually do engage with the mood and character of Paris during the First World War; I particularly enjoyed the stuff about mobilisation and tailoring, but - perhaps he realised he didn't have anything else to write about? - it begins to veer into a personal history instead, in which the author delves into his grandfather's deployment as part of the AIF. Which would be fine, if a) the title of the This is not a book about Paris at the end of the world. There are some promising bits in front which actually do engage with the mood and character of Paris during the First World War; I particularly enjoyed the stuff about mobilisation and tailoring, but - perhaps he realised he didn't have anything else to write about? - it begins to veer into a personal history instead, in which the author delves into his grandfather's deployment as part of the AIF. Which would be fine, if a) the title of the book were 'My Grandfather And the AIF; He Might Have Been In Paris, But Mostly Convalesced in England'; and b) he didn't suddenly, randomly, turn it into some faux-narrative of his grandfather meeting Jean Cocteau. It genuinely devolves into soppy fiction-writing at the end, with his grandfather and anyone he interacts with using 'slang' in that particular way terrible writers tend to do (stuffing multiple slang words into every line. It's apples, mate). Just thinking about it makes me want to take another star off the rating. Other things: the tendency to talk about present-day Paris (which is fine when it's linked back to the war, but this isn't necessarily so); the disparaging of actual curators and historical experts (an armchair does not a historian make); the hint of racism; the consultation of what seems to be an actual murderer without even a shred of, I don't know, self-consciousness. I feel very much like I paid for Belgian chocolate and was given one of those cheap gold-foil coins instead.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Agnesxnitt

    This book wasn't what I expected at all but I did enjoy it. I expected the book to be about how Paris and her inhabitants had survived and thrived during the Great War, and it sort of was, but then again, it sort of wasn't. Interspersed with the factual history, is the story of the author's grandfather, Archie, of how he peppered his life with mispronounced French phrases after his service in the Australian Expeditionary Force during the Great War. I don't want to say too much about Archie and his This book wasn't what I expected at all but I did enjoy it. I expected the book to be about how Paris and her inhabitants had survived and thrived during the Great War, and it sort of was, but then again, it sort of wasn't. Interspersed with the factual history, is the story of the author's grandfather, Archie, of how he peppered his life with mispronounced French phrases after his service in the Australian Expeditionary Force during the Great War. I don't want to say too much about Archie and his experiences, I think it would spoil how the story unrolls. The author's own adventures of the people he meets and encounters whilst writing this book are also very readable! Not your average history book, and being a bit of a Great War Bore (self pronounced), I was aware of most of what the author covers, however there were some points I didn't know and so were extra interesting. Its not so much what information the author has included as how he communicates that information. An added layer to this obviously very personal book is that the author is Australian born but is now married to French lady and they have a daughter, and lives in Paris himself - the city his grandfather longed to see. Returning to the library this weekend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    SeaShore

    It's the first time reading this author and I'm caught. He writes about World War I and all the countries involved. Then, he adds a bit of drama almost like he has this gnawing feeling about his grandfather, Archie Baxter, who volunteered to leave Australia and go to France from 1914 to 1918. He described vividly what France was like during this time with some humor and comical illustrations of the day. It seems like no family member got to know the withdrawn Archie and this mystery seeped into It's the first time reading this author and I'm caught. He writes about World War I and all the countries involved. Then, he adds a bit of drama almost like he has this gnawing feeling about his grandfather, Archie Baxter, who volunteered to leave Australia and go to France from 1914 to 1918. He described vividly what France was like during this time with some humor and comical illustrations of the day. It seems like no family member got to know the withdrawn Archie and this mystery seeped into the young Baxter. The family drama began when his parents along with his uncle's family moved into his grandfather's house. When people do not get along, they put up barriers. The author is an experienced writer and what a way to write about your ancestry while projecting the history of the times; the glamour of war, the intrigue of Paris. He manages to talk about art and artists but to some extent, the costumes and the work endured to produce uniforms, especially army uniforms- No Australian was forced to enlist, least of all, my grandfather. Archie enlisted in May 1916. "Happy men do not volunteer".- He quotes a line from Dr Zhivago.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    I was excited to see this book in the Goodreads giveaways and entered to win it. I have reviewed plenty of books on WWI along with undergraduate and graduate studies of the war. One thing that is rarely covered is the civilian impact of the war. Paris was in range of the German guns and aerial bombings. It was not captured as in WWII but stood at the edge of the the fighting. How did Parisians react to the war? Were there large volunteer efforts making field dressings? Did the population maintai I was excited to see this book in the Goodreads giveaways and entered to win it. I have reviewed plenty of books on WWI along with undergraduate and graduate studies of the war. One thing that is rarely covered is the civilian impact of the war. Paris was in range of the German guns and aerial bombings. It was not captured as in WWII but stood at the edge of the the fighting. How did Parisians react to the war? Were there large volunteer efforts making field dressings? Did the population maintain a wartime footing in industry? Did the people sacrifice? Were there fears? Unfortunately, these questions aren't answered or answered well in the book. While not a hard history of the war, there is information on the war. What the books seems to cover is the author's grandfather who was part of the Australian Imperial Force. The book is rather light as a war history and a history of wartime Paris. It is a good read for those who want to learn something about the war without a detailed, structured history. It is also a nice tribute to the author's grandfather.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anas Sabbar

    This nimble read is one of disjointed vignettes that serve as a study of the the grey area between pedestrians and the trenches, threaded through with a narrative of how the Aussie author's grandfather served with the Anzac and the diverse reasons for volunteering. It reads like several illustrated magazine features, with one theme (WWI) but not much else joining it together. It jumps from prostitution to doughboys, Picasso’s Parade ballet to Jean Cocteau's exuberances, sober analysis's to delici This nimble read is one of disjointed vignettes that serve as a study of the the grey area between pedestrians and the trenches, threaded through with a narrative of how the Aussie author's grandfather served with the Anzac and the diverse reasons for volunteering. It reads like several illustrated magazine features, with one theme (WWI) but not much else joining it together. It jumps from prostitution to doughboys, Picasso’s Parade ballet to Jean Cocteau's exuberances, sober analysis's to delicious troves of trivia. Many would thing what could have been a well-investigate and rigorous look at what happened in Paris during WWI turns into a jumbled potpourri of tidbits from all over the continent at war; yet there is no scarcity of books that delve into that. Paris at the End of the World is just the right appetizer for social rather than military studies on "La guerre de '14".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This book is easy to read and fairly informative. Baxter likes to drop a lot of French, so you may get more out of it if you know a small bit of French. (I took 4 years of it in high school.) I there had been more information in chronological order; at the beginning, times seems a bit fluid. I also wish it had been more tightly focused on Paris than the general Western front of the war. My biggest criticism is less about the book itself and more about the synopsis on the back. Baxter spends a fai This book is easy to read and fairly informative. Baxter likes to drop a lot of French, so you may get more out of it if you know a small bit of French. (I took 4 years of it in high school.) I there had been more information in chronological order; at the beginning, times seems a bit fluid. I also wish it had been more tightly focused on Paris than the general Western front of the war. My biggest criticism is less about the book itself and more about the synopsis on the back. Baxter spends a fair amount of chapters attempting to follow his grandfather Archie's journey during the war - but there's no mention of this in any back blurb or description. I don't begrudge the author his search; I'm going through some similar family history cataloguing right now and I found it quite interesting. I just wish there had been more transparency about it. What I expected was a chronology of Paris during the war years, but there was much more looseness in the story.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    I have always said I love how events such as revolutions and war transform themselves to art. John Baxter on a quest to find out about his grandfather Archie's time in France during World War 1 and his obsession with the city of Lights discover how art, literature, poetry and theatre become prevalent during this time. Famous artisians and poets include Rupert Brooke, Ernest Hemingway, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, and ee cummings. Also of interest is how the postcard industry boomed during this t I have always said I love how events such as revolutions and war transform themselves to art. John Baxter on a quest to find out about his grandfather Archie's time in France during World War 1 and his obsession with the city of Lights discover how art, literature, poetry and theatre become prevalent during this time. Famous artisians and poets include Rupert Brooke, Ernest Hemingway, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, and ee cummings. Also of interest is how the postcard industry boomed during this time. Baxter is an expert on Paris and even lives where Sylvia Beach the early owner of Shakespeare and Company live. If you love Paris, you will feel as if you are transported to the great salons in the city of lights!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kmystraveler

    This is a book that meanders. At times it is a history of Paris during WW1- other times it is an imagined journey of the author’s grandfather’s time in Paris during WW1. There some unusual histories included, such as Jean Cocteau and a possible intersection w Grandpa. As you read my review- you can see it becoming more disjointed; this is the book. Why did I read it? I’m a book rake- a term that Robert Graves used to describe his reading habits in the far better written: Merry Heart. It’s a good b This is a book that meanders. At times it is a history of Paris during WW1- other times it is an imagined journey of the author’s grandfather’s time in Paris during WW1. There some unusual histories included, such as Jean Cocteau and a possible intersection w Grandpa. As you read my review- you can see it becoming more disjointed; this is the book. Why did I read it? I’m a book rake- a term that Robert Graves used to describe his reading habits in the far better written: Merry Heart. It’s a good book to read at night- some interesting tidbits here and there- but the meandering prose eventually made me sleepy Good Night Moon for Adults.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    It's an entertaining piece of writing - part fact, part fiction, part social commentary of Paris during WW1, rather than an historical account. Though a few more filled-out chapters would have given it a bit more body, the author did an excellent job working with a finite amount of background information. It's an entertaining piece of writing - part fact, part fiction, part social commentary of Paris during WW1, rather than an historical account. Though a few more filled-out chapters would have given it a bit more body, the author did an excellent job working with a finite amount of background information.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The book contained a few interesting anecdotes but is mostly disjointed stories about the western world during WW1. Focusing on his grandfather was an odd, self-indulgent choice as he quickly left the war with varicose veins (!?!). It’s also irritating to see basic factual errors In a nonfiction book like the claim that 100 proof equals 60% alcohol. If even that isn’t accurate what is?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I wanted to go with 3 and a half stars, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it deserved that extra half. It was a really interesting book, and if you're wanting to start researching civilian Paris life in WWI, this is a good starting book. I wanted to go with 3 and a half stars, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it deserved that extra half. It was a really interesting book, and if you're wanting to start researching civilian Paris life in WWI, this is a good starting book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gil Burket

    In recent years I’ve come to realize that the World War I period was a lot more colorful than the drab of khaki, feld grau and endless mud. Paris at the End of the World describes the City of Light during its existence a mere 40 miles from the front line. While armies slugged it out in the chaos of the trenches, wire and artillery barrages, life continued in Paris, although not without intrusions. Throughout the war years, the plays, literary scene, and music continued to flourish, although over t In recent years I’ve come to realize that the World War I period was a lot more colorful than the drab of khaki, feld grau and endless mud. Paris at the End of the World describes the City of Light during its existence a mere 40 miles from the front line. While armies slugged it out in the chaos of the trenches, wire and artillery barrages, life continued in Paris, although not without intrusions. Throughout the war years, the plays, literary scene, and music continued to flourish, although over time with inevitable influences from the war, and a conflict that appeared to grind on without end. The city became a contrast between the serious managers of the war, the General Staffs of various countries, and those who continued to live the good and cultured life. Add the mix were thousands of soldiers, either stationed there or in transit from dozens of Allied countries. One of these was the author’s grandfather, who in later years was distant from his family, walked with a limp gained during the war, given to speaking broken French phrases and often talking of returning (which he never did). A good third of the book is the author’s partially successful attempts of retracing his grandfather’s journey, trying to make sense of it all. This is not your standard military history, but more of a social history of a city during wartime. It influenced those who came, but in turn was also changed by those who came through as well. In particular, the war harkened an “American age” with the coming of jazz music and other oddities that infiltrated from the New World. One of the things that is emphasized by the book was the flourishing of magazines and illustrative art during the war. Take another look at the cover...it is a young urban French woman who has cast aside her normally fashionable dress and straw hat which are lying at her feet. Instead she wears field boots and a shapeless dress of French Army Horizon Blue along with collar tabs, and a helmet. She stands along the wire with the Eiffel Tower on the skyline. One visible concession to the war was the adoption of uniform styled clothing for both men and women. For the women, it economized on fabric and demonstrated a patriotic spirit. For the men, some of whom were actually not in service to their country, it was a way to get noticed by the women! The author describes that eventually there were so many uniforms within the city, including endless varieties of French military and civil service uniforms as well as foreign troops, that nobody could tell who was who! Eventually in this story, the Americans arrived. Initially referred to as "Sammies" in deference to Uncle Sam, the Americans much preferred the term "Doughboy". This title was apparently based on the color of the uniform and the dark brown buttons looking to the French like chocolate chips. Oddly, the Americans were greeted with a certain amount of suspicion and the question "Where have you been? Why were you not here earlier?" The illustrators of Paris of course used their arrival as fresh material for their magazines. The author states that they actually preferred to show Marines with their four peaked "Montana" hat. The US Army soldiers looked too similar in their uniforms to the British or Commonwealth troops, so the Marines became the symbol of the confident newcomers, with their steely eyes and square jaws. The Americans of course made themselves notable for informing their Allies that now that they were on the scene, victory would be swift! The book mentions that other than passing through for transport, few of the front line US troops ever got to Paris on leave during the war. Most of the fighting units were shunted off to R+R centers safely located in the French countryside where there was less available to get them into trouble. But there were still those who made it there, either by being stationed there or by virtue of Occupation Duties. As noted with the author's Aussie grandfather, they saw sights and had experiences that just were not something they had back home. After the war, many stayed or returned. Due to the recession that Europe immediately plunged into, an American could live in Paris for a full year on a $1,000. As noted, Paris changed those who came, but was also changed itself. Jazz music brought an American Age to the continent, and much of the vitality of the era was drawn from the New World. But those who passed through were exposed to music, literature and art that would influence American culture for decades, and even to the present. This book adds a perspective missing from many works of the period. Some of the stories are strange if not bizarre, while others simply reflect the temporary morality of a city at war. And some equally strange stories are from the present as well during the course of the author's research. The Australian author has made his life in Paris, in some ways fulfilling his grandfather’s wish to return. The book is easy reading and recommended to anyone with an interest in the period.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Light and entertaining tidbits of social history relating to France, The Great War, and other tangential things.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This is a fascinating study of Paris and it's people during and after the war and how it changed the city forever. This is a fascinating study of Paris and it's people during and after the war and how it changed the city forever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy

    The title doesn’t fit what the book was actually about.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Another historical walk around Paris, but in this one he also investigates his Australian grandfather's part in the Great War with the help of professional historians and researchers. Another historical walk around Paris, but in this one he also investigates his Australian grandfather's part in the Great War with the help of professional historians and researchers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Littell

    Misleading title. This book is less about Paris and WWI than it is about the author's exploration of his Australian grandfather's participation in WWI, of which very, very little is actually known. Misleading title. This book is less about Paris and WWI than it is about the author's exploration of his Australian grandfather's participation in WWI, of which very, very little is actually known.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ross Donohue

    As others have mentioned, the title is a bit misleading as there isn’t as much on life in Paris as one would think. I still enjoyed the book.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.