File Size: 8489 KB
Print Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 15, 2014)
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
There are really two stories told. The first is about Archie Baxter, the author’s Australian grandfather who served during the war with the Anzac troops and spent some time in France. It seems that Archie never advised his family about what he did or where he was in France during the war. Mcdougal patches together available family souvenirs and archival records to discover that a medical problem (varicose veins) kept Archie out of combat, and a good bit of Archie’s time was spent in England for needed medical care. In reality, there is absolutely no evidence that Archie ever saw the lights of Paris. So why is he a main figure in this publication about Paris? Is it perhaps because his tale helps to fill web pages? The fabricated chapter is an effort to hyperlink Archie with Paris, but it doesn’t work well.
The other told story is about the literary and performing arts and the various caricatures that content spun around the art world during the war. Several of these people are self-indulgent nouveau riche who seem to be to be turned off with what is going on around them. Much of this is entertaining, but these events and personalities are presented as if they may be representative of Parisian life in the period. To be sure, that was part of life in the city, but what about everything else that was happening? Very little is said about the consequence of the war on the middle and lower classes or what the war did to family life, or about the economics of a funds city so near to the front, or local politics during the dash of the conflict, or about any effects on in the religious organizations and activities. I could carry on, but the bottom part line is that the book comes up far, far too short on what life was like in Paris during the Great War. It’s interesting in places, but seeking on historical substance., Following a quarter of a millennium living in, writing about, and conducting walking trips of Paris, John Baxter has endeared himself to two vast audiences--those who love Paris and those who have never visited Paris but now, after reading one of Baxter’s publications, wish they could. Perhaps, a 3rd group of potential readers is composed of folks who simply appreciate good writing.
Baxter is keenly aware there are thousands of great and not-so-great books about the fantastic War. While he has obviously done an huge amount of reading in this literature as well as combing through original archives, Baxter stakes out there his own territory and exercises his wonderful expertise as a storyteller.
While so many have written about wartime Europe, until " Paris at the Finish of the World, " no person had written about Archie Baxter and his curious wartime adventures. Archie Baxter was the author’s grandfather, and as Baxter describes, neither Archie nor his kin traveled much and talked about themselves even less. Nonetheless, Archie performed leave Australia to battle in defense of The uk and France against the Germans. Baxter’s wonderful storytelling is in high products as he boldly chemicals the exotic cultural, economical, political, and military background in which Archie plants himself.
Half of the book’s artistry derives from dozens of vignettes, some deliciously gossipy, about how the wealthy and artsy dealt with panic over mobilization and bombardment; how young musicians (Cocteau, Diaghilev, Picasso, Satie) wove themselves into the drama; and how rank-and-file doughboys and poilu maintained their over-the-top fearlessness in part by consuming great quantities of pinard (cheap red wine) and tafia (cheap rum). The other half of Baxter’s genius is the three characters threading through the narrative—Baxter himself, who talks about his nearly obsessive interest in his grandfather’s wartime adventure; Peter van Diemen, an indispensable, if slightly weird, history sleuth; and old man Archie Baxter whose passion for war was evidently derailed by a nasty case of varicose problematic veins.
As Baxter reminds us, “stories undertake their own lives, drawing you alongside, often oblivious, in their wake. ” As I actually turned the page from the final chapter to the Epilogue to the Acknowledgements, I realized I was hooked and wanted more Baxter stories., I thoroughly enjoyed " Paris In late the World". It is not a historical story, nor is it a history of World War I, nor is it a biography of the author's grandfather, Archie. That is most of these, written as a popular narrative historical past of WWI and the lives of folks in Paris at the time. Not to mention that there is also an ongoing tale of grandfather Archie's war experience.
This book caught my eye because I possess just returned from my first trip to Paris, which included a tour of WWI battlefields and cemeteries of France. Every webpage I turned brought new understanding of these places from a more personal aspect.
My favorite anecdote from the book was in the chapter titled ' Dressed To Kill'. At this time in the war, materials were scarce for stylish of Paris. Soldiers of 'No Man's Land' often delivered up flares in struggle. The flare included a small silk parachute to slower its descent, and military risked their lives to retrieve these parachutes for the girls back home. A pair of them could be sewn into a couple of knickers, and four into a blouse. This is just one of hundreds of paragraphs in the book that will give you a world of information about the lives and times and people in wartime France (Paris).
Also worthwhile are the many illustrations (at least 60) included, whether they be photos, drawings, paintings or posters, they certainly make the publication complete.
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