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Eiffel's Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris's Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It (Anglais) Broché – 27 avril 2010

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Présentation de l'éditeur

The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it

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.

Biographie de l'auteur

Jill Jonnes is the author of 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.

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48 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Eiffel's Tower:" History that reads as well as fiction . . . 16 juin 2009
Par Classical Curiosities - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
During the restoration of the Statue of Liberty some years ago, I supervised several museum projects relating to its history and construction, which attracted me to the life and work of the famous French engineer, Gustave Eiffel. Everyone knows that his company designed and built the Eiffel Tower, but few know that they were also responsible for the internal support structure of America's most famous symbol. The builder of a number of remarkable railroad viaducts including the magnificent Garabit bridge, Eiffel immortalized himself with the unprecedented construction of the 300 meter tower, known to all the world as the Effel Tower.

So, when any books appear on the market relating to Eiffel, I feel compelled to have it. Such was true when I came across Jill Jonnes' newest publication, "Eiffel's Tower," I bought it. And from the day it arrived as I perused the first few pages, I found it utterly irresistible. Confronted with the life of a very complex personality and a long list of masterful achievements as is the case with Eiffel, Jonnes sensibly keeps her focus on the building of the tower as the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition, but sets it in the context of the many other fascinating individuals whose lives and activities--at least for a time--revolved around the tower. As the tower gradually rises to the heavens in the face of mounting controversy and public criticism, it serves as a backdrop to a veritable who's who of characters, including Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Alva Edison, Rosa Bonheur, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and James McNeill Whistler, whose various adventures are played out in its ever-extending shadow.

Jonnes' well-researched account does not ignore the engineering aspects of the Tower's construction, such as the frustrating problems with the installation of the elevator system, but she knows the right moment to pull away and pick up on any one of the several story-lines that gradually evolve throughout the book. As history, it has the taste and feel of really good fiction. But don't expect a dry historical kind of ending, which in so many cases, merely . . . .ends. "Eiffel's Tower" concludes in triumph and tragedy with the completion of the tower to world-wide praise and recognition on all sides (well, almost), followed by the Panama Canal disaster which fell heavily on the shoulders of Eiffel. Highly recommended.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
All the Fun of the Fair 26 août 2009
Par Rob Hardy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
When Gustave Eiffel built his famous tower in Paris for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, he fully expected it to be a temporary monument. It was to outlast the exhibition, but for only twenty years, whereupon it would be demolished. In _Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count_ (Viking), historian Jill Jonnes shows that part of the reason the tower was to be temporary was that it was not universally appreciated. It was an ugly eyesore, the critics claimed, "an inartistic ... scaffolding of crossbars and angled iron." As the foundation was being dug, artists and intellectuals (like composer Charles Gounod and author Guy de Maupassant) signed their names to an angry protest letter which called the structure a "dizzily ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a black and gigantic factory chimney, crushing [all] beneath its barbarous mass." It was a tower "which even commercial America will not have." The tower proved popular, however, and when the twenty year mark rolled around, Eiffel was glad to be using it as a scientific station, and to be able to claim that it was still needed in that role. He had convinced the French military to use it as a radio antenna in 1903 (but had had to pay for the telegraphy unit himself). When World War One came, any controversy about its permanence was over, since it was essential as a viewing tower and communications post. Jonnes's lively and funny book has a history of the building of the tower and its troubled reputation and construction, but is also about the fair for which it was built, an epochal gathering of notables that Jonnes profiles here. It is hard to imagine Paris without its tower, but the other buildings of the exhibition are long gone, as are the exhibitors, and this book is a welcome recreation of the event.

Eiffel had entered the new field of railroad engineering, and was adept at building complicated bridges and aqueducts. His tower (_Tour en Fer de Trois Cents Mètres_) beat out entries including the gigantic replica of a guillotine (the exposition was to celebrate the centennial of the Revolution). The tower was finished on time for the opening of the exposition, but the elevators were not, and for the first three weeks, if you wanted to get to the top, you took the stairs. You could go to the viewing platform, and if you were famous, you could get invited to Eiffel's own aerie apartment, a suite of rooms with settees and a piano (on which the composer Gounod, who had campaigned against the tower, was graciously invited to play). The tower was the anchor for the Paris Exposition, and it is the anchor for Jonnes's book as well. Jonnes has wonderful stories of those who exhibited, performed, or visited the tower and the fair. Among the most famous of the personalities here was Buffalo Bill Cody (or _Guillaume Buffalo_), who started an extremely successful European tour in Paris. He brought real Indians with him, and Frenchmen enjoyed the spectacle of re-enactions of the stagecoach battles that tamed the West, but the Indians enjoyed the spectacles of Paris. When they were taken to the Cirque d'Éte, they were delighted with French clowns parodying their riding and their Indian wars, and laughed so hard at the clown version of their war dance that they shed tears. With Buffalo Bill was his sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who was a sensation with her ability to shoot down glass bubbles tossed into the air or to split a playing card shot edgewise. Also featured here is Thomas Alva Edison, who was there to show off (and to market) his phonograph; Parisian celebrities were delighted with the machine's capacity to capture their voices. He was feted everywhere, and was dismayed by the richness of the eight or eighteen course dinners. The bad boy of publishing, James Gordon Bennett is here, running the _New York Herald_ from a distance and also founding a Paris edition which touted the exposition; it survives as _The International Herald-Tribune_. Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are on the fringes as impoverished artists hoping for their big break, a break that the exposition did not provide.

Jonnes takes us on a tour of the fair, where visitors could see Arab orchestras, gigantic engines, and Javanese dancing girls, and could tour the grounds by miniature railroad or by authentic rickshaws. They could view the world's largest oaken wine cask (200,000 bottles worth), or a shepherd using the stilts traditional to his region for getting quickly to far-flung herds. They might fantasize about buying the Eiffel Tower model on display encrusted with 40,000 diamonds. For souvenirs, they did buy lamps, umbrellas, chocolate, and handkerchiefs depicting the tower, just as tourists still do. Jonnes's book swings nicely between engineering, celebrity portraits, and social history, and is a fine resource for all of us who could not make it to the Exposition Universelle ourselves.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Well-researched, enjoyable read 23 juin 2009
Par Debbie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This lively and entertaining book is obviously extensively researched. Using newspaper articles, interviews, letters, and so forth, the author lets the reader see events unfold as those who lived at the time saw them.

The book covers the details of the building of the Eiffel Tower as well as the doings of famous people who attended the 1889 Paris World's Fair. The book has nice photos illustrating the building of the tower, showing famous people who attended the world's fair, and scenes from the fair.

Some untranslated French is used in the book, but I got the point even though I don't know French.

Two of my family members were also interested in this book, so we read it aloud. Reviewer Two thought the start of the book was a bit slow (while we were being introduced to so many people). However, once we got to know the characters, he thought the book was one of the most interesting books he'd read in a long time.

Reviewer Three enjoyed the whole book except the epilogue where we're told what happened to these people after the Fair. She was sad to hear what happened to most of them after their high point at the fair since many didn't have happy endings.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the building of the Eiffel Tower or in what happened at the 1889 Paris World's Fair. Also, history buffs interested in technology would probably enjoy this book.

Review also posted at Different Time, Different Place Book Reviews
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Towerful Delight 12 février 2010
Par Erin Johnson - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is my most recent foray into non-fiction. It was recommended by a colleague who thought I'd like it (same colleague who lent me Devil in a White City, so he definitely knows what I like in my non-fiction!).

Jonnes takes us on a trip to Paris in 1889. The story of the tower begins with Gustave Eiffel and his dream of making his tower the attraction of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Let me tell you, there is always drama surrounding a piece of art that has beat out competitors, inspired some bad blood, and whose construction is at the mercy of politics. Ouch. Eiffel obviously persevered in the construction of this magnificent piece of architecture as its still there (and still causing controversy, although recently it's been more about the light show at night than its actual presence).

Though the title really focuses on the tower, there was a lot going on in Paris (and America) at this time. The point of the Eiffel Tower was to be the piece de resistance for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Paris wanted the world to see its crowning achievement (as the tower was the tallest thing in existence for quite a few years), but it also wanted to showcase its art, inventions and achievements. There were displays from numerous countries, although it seems that the Javanese dancers really won the crowd over.

Some of my favorite parts dealt with Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show, Annie Oakley and her reception in Paris, Thomas Edison and his issues with partners as well as his Parisian reception when he showed up to the fair, and the squabbles amongst the artists.

Honestly, if you pick this one up expecting the entire book to be about the Eiffel Tower, you will be sorely disappointed. However, you will also learn a lot about the world, Paris, America and the people in this book at the time it is set.

The story is broken up into sections, so there is never too much of one particular subject in a row throughout the story. If you find one particular aspect boring, you can easily skip that section and move right along. I wouldn't recommend it, as you are sure to miss something fabulous and fascinating.

And on a personal note, as someone who has visited the tower and ridden in those elevators, it was really fabulous to read about how the tower came to be (because honestly, it may not have been or it could have failed miserably!) It was only supposed to be up for 20 years, and I am so glad that it is still there, as it truly is a marvel of architecture from the turn of the century. No, you don't have to know the history to appreciate it, but I find that I really want to go back now and pick out the spots where the restaurants were (are?) and find out if Eiffel's suite is still there. How bad is it that I can't remember that detail from 2003?

Notes on the Cover:
I love the combination of the black, gold and white. I love the way the tower is illuminated and how you see the rest of the Exposition around its base. I did wonder if the tower had ever been lit the way its depicted on the cover, so I looked it up and it is apparently a real photograph from the fair in 1900 by William H. Rau. Lovely!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Detailed... 12 septembre 2011
Par John B. Goode - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Chanced upon this book and thought it'd be a great idea to know more about the Eiffel Tower.

1) A very nice book with a lot of detail, sometimes too much detail. For example, in the section on the Otis elevators, the author went as far as to print the correspondences between Otis and Eiffel showing how the two men went back and forth over the cost overruns and delays. I think it would have been good enough to explain that the delays were due to changes in the tower design and safety requirements from the safety commission. It was a great extra effort to actually show the actual words from each other but made for much lengthier reading (2 pages of detail vs 1 paragraph of explanation). And that was just on the overruns, there's a lot more detail on the elevators.
2) A lot of background information on the hows and why it was built and chosen.
3) Photographs throughout show stages of the tower being built as well as the people.

1) Sometimes too much detail (as above) making for very tedious reading. Some of it has nothing to do with the tower. For example, there's another story about US foreign minister Reid who got dragged into a diplomatic incident with some American women who wouldn't pay a dressmaker who delivered the wrong items.
2) Again, stories that had nothing to do with the tower, such as an ongoing thread about Annie Oakley.

I think the book should have been shortened by at least 50%, and cut out all the information that had nothing to do with the tower and unnecessary detail (for example, I know know that the Baroness de Smerck fell to her death in an elevator that fell from the top floor to the basement because the elevator did not have brakes) that made for very tedious reading. And the book would have been much more enjoyable.
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