A Cultural History, Paris and Beyond by Dominique Kalifa

 Would you like to go back to the Belle Époque in Paris? Practically everyone would! It is seen as a glittering age of dining at Maxim's, the Can-Can at the Moulin Rouge, Impressionist paintings, boating on the Seine. People enjoyed themselves without cares in this golden era before the First World War. Was it really like this? When did it start to be seen like this? 

The distinguished historian Kalifa studies how each age has seen this era in this insightful and extremely detailed book. Surprisingly, although most people think that people looked back to this happy time in the '20s, this is not true! It only began to be regarded as a distinct era in the 1930s, and it wasn't really until after World War Two that it became a part of cultural history fueled by nostalgia and longing for a better time. 

Kalifa studies the memoirs, films and books about the era in each age, and how we are constantly reaching a better understanding of it. For example, in the 1960s and '70s, historians started to look at the shadowy side of the era - the poverty, gangs, and sex workers, for example. Recently, there has been a focus on collecting vintage items, and preserving cultural heritage.

It is an extremely interesting book, but probably more enjoyable for those who make a study of French history.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.


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