web site hit counter Eiffel's Tower and the World's Fair: Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Eiffel's Tower and the World's Fair: Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count

Availability: Ready to download

The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it Since it opened in May 1889, the Eiffel Tower has been an iconic image of modern times-as much a beacon of technological progress as an enduring symbol of Paris and French culture. But as engineer Gustave Eiffel built the now-famous landmark to be the spectacular centerpiece of the The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it Since it opened in May 1889, the Eiffel Tower has been an iconic image of modern times-as much a beacon of technological progress as an enduring symbol of Paris and French culture. But as engineer Gustave Eiffel built the now-famous landmark to be the spectacular centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair, he stirred up a storm of vitriol from Parisian tastemakers, lawsuits, and predictions of certain structural calamity. In Eiffel's Tower, Jill Jonnes, critically acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham, presents a compelling account of the tower's creation and a superb portrait of Belle Epoque France. As Eiffel held court that summer atop his one-thousand-foot tower, a remarkable host of artists and personalities-Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Gauguin, Whistler, and Edison-traveled to Paris and the Exposition Universelle to mingle and make their mark. Like The Devil in the White City, Brunelleschi's Dome, and David McCullough's accounts of the building of the Panama Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge, Eiffel's Tower combines technological and social history and biography to create a richly textured portrayal of an age of aspiration, dreams, and progress.


Compare

The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it Since it opened in May 1889, the Eiffel Tower has been an iconic image of modern times-as much a beacon of technological progress as an enduring symbol of Paris and French culture. But as engineer Gustave Eiffel built the now-famous landmark to be the spectacular centerpiece of the The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world's fair that introduced it Since it opened in May 1889, the Eiffel Tower has been an iconic image of modern times-as much a beacon of technological progress as an enduring symbol of Paris and French culture. But as engineer Gustave Eiffel built the now-famous landmark to be the spectacular centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair, he stirred up a storm of vitriol from Parisian tastemakers, lawsuits, and predictions of certain structural calamity. In Eiffel's Tower, Jill Jonnes, critically acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham, presents a compelling account of the tower's creation and a superb portrait of Belle Epoque France. As Eiffel held court that summer atop his one-thousand-foot tower, a remarkable host of artists and personalities-Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Gauguin, Whistler, and Edison-traveled to Paris and the Exposition Universelle to mingle and make their mark. Like The Devil in the White City, Brunelleschi's Dome, and David McCullough's accounts of the building of the Panama Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge, Eiffel's Tower combines technological and social history and biography to create a richly textured portrayal of an age of aspiration, dreams, and progress.

30 review for Eiffel's Tower and the World's Fair: Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It's about the Eiffel Tower, afterall, and I LOVE the Eiffel Tower. Sadly, I can't finish this book (although I'm giving myself credit for finishing it because it feels like I've been reading it for an eternity). The author's writing style is very jarring. She jumps from topic to topic without warning, leaving the reader thinking, "Wait a minute...we were just talking about the Eiffel Tower and now we are talking about Annie Oakley. Where was the I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It's about the Eiffel Tower, afterall, and I LOVE the Eiffel Tower. Sadly, I can't finish this book (although I'm giving myself credit for finishing it because it feels like I've been reading it for an eternity). The author's writing style is very jarring. She jumps from topic to topic without warning, leaving the reader thinking, "Wait a minute...we were just talking about the Eiffel Tower and now we are talking about Annie Oakley. Where was the transition?!" I felt like I was constantly going back to the previous paragraph to make sure I didn't miss something. I will give the author credit for painting a vivid picture of the frantic, harsh working conditions that the workers faced while constructing the Eiffel Tower. I had no idea that the Tower was built under such rushed, ever-changing, brutal conditions. The fact that only two people died under those conditions is astonishing. I also enjoyed reading about Eiffel's relationship with Otis Elevator. I work at UTC (the parent company of Otis Elevator), so I enjoyed learning a little more about one of our subsidiaries. I'm proud to work for a company that has been innovative and cutting-edge for over a century, and that our technology is part of what was, at the time, the tallest structure in the world, and is to this day an internationally recognized symbol of one of the world's most fascinating cities. Ultimately, this author's writing style turned me off from finishing this book. I would have enjoyed learning more about the Eiffel Tower and the Paris Worlds Fair, but became far too frustrated with the abrupt changes of topic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    I actually liked this one better than Devil in the White City. I liked the part of Devil in the White City that was about the fair more than the part about the serial killer. And this one is almost entirely about the Exposition Universelle of 1889. A large part of Eiffel's Tower (actually, a very large part, thinking about it) sets the time and place for us. And it was a very interesting time and place. Coverage I would describe as not superficial and the writing I found fairly engaging. I would re I actually liked this one better than Devil in the White City. I liked the part of Devil in the White City that was about the fair more than the part about the serial killer. And this one is almost entirely about the Exposition Universelle of 1889. A large part of Eiffel's Tower (actually, a very large part, thinking about it) sets the time and place for us. And it was a very interesting time and place. Coverage I would describe as not superficial and the writing I found fairly engaging. I would recommend this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Ridgway

    I was a little disappointed with the percentage of the book that is actually about the Eiffel Tower. There was a lot about Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show and other side topics. The book alludes to the difficulty of the politics of the tower, the actual engineering of the tower, and the building/construction of the tower. The design of the elevators seemed like a side mention. The life of the tower since the World's Fair, too, could have been expanded. In short, I would have liked more about I was a little disappointed with the percentage of the book that is actually about the Eiffel Tower. There was a lot about Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show and other side topics. The book alludes to the difficulty of the politics of the tower, the actual engineering of the tower, and the building/construction of the tower. The design of the elevators seemed like a side mention. The life of the tower since the World's Fair, too, could have been expanded. In short, I would have liked more about the tower itself - the title of the book. That being said, it was interesting and the characters and stories were fun to read. I don't think the comparison to Devil in the White City is fair or accurate, unless they put that only because they are both about world exhibitions. The two stories are very different, and the writing is not at all the same. If you have to choose one, I would recommend Devil in the White City much more highly.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Another non-fiction book that reads like a novel - only you feel smarter when you have finished. The setting is the 1889 World's Fair to be held in Paris. A contest was introduced to bring a "grand monument" to the site that all would remember! Along with the story of Eiffel's design being chosen and then the multiple obstacles (money, elevators, completion dates, etc) there are multiple characters that play supporting roles including Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Paul Gaugin, Whistler and more! Another non-fiction book that reads like a novel - only you feel smarter when you have finished. The setting is the 1889 World's Fair to be held in Paris. A contest was introduced to bring a "grand monument" to the site that all would remember! Along with the story of Eiffel's design being chosen and then the multiple obstacles (money, elevators, completion dates, etc) there are multiple characters that play supporting roles including Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Paul Gaugin, Whistler and more! Not to give too much away, but you might be interested to know that the Tower was scheduled to be torn down within a few years! Viva la France!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    Regular readers know that I'm a big fan of all the "NPR-worthy" nonfiction books that are being published these days, manuscripts that take a quirky event from history to instead examine the entire culture of that time and place, in a way that's easy to read and always fascinating; but there's an inherent danger that comes with such books too, that in their zeal to churn out a volume with the exact same standards as all the rest of these types of books (300 pages plus footnotes? Check. Ridiculou Regular readers know that I'm a big fan of all the "NPR-worthy" nonfiction books that are being published these days, manuscripts that take a quirky event from history to instead examine the entire culture of that time and place, in a way that's easy to read and always fascinating; but there's an inherent danger that comes with such books too, that in their zeal to churn out a volume with the exact same standards as all the rest of these types of books (300 pages plus footnotes? Check. Ridiculously long subtitle? Check. Could be easily made into a Ken Burns PBS documentary? Check!), many of these authors and publishers will overlook the fact that the subject at hand simply cannot fully support these standards needed for an NPR-Worthy Nonfiction Book. Take for example Eiffel's Tower, by NPR-Worthy Nonfiction Book veteran Jill Jonnes, which I want to make clear from the start is well-written for what it is; but unfortunately for her, it turns out that railroad engineer Gustave Eiffel's late-Victorian ode to industrialism pretty much went up with barely any hitches at all (you know, once he convinced the public that the whole thing wasn't going to topple over with the first strong wind), making a 300-page book about its construction (and the 1889 world fair it was the centerpiece of) feel awfully stretched out at points. How Jonnes compensates for this, then, as can be seen in her own book's ridiculous long subtitle, is by tracking the simultaneous histories of such other fairgoers that year as entertainer Buffalo Bill, painter James Whistler, inventor Thomas Edison and more; but that unfortunately tends to compound the problem rather than help it, with for example sharpshooter and book subject Annie Oakley's entire timeline from this period being not much more than, "She got ready for the fair, then she went to the fair, and then she went home from the fair." Like I said, it's not a bad book at all, which is why it's getting a decent score today; it's just that it's padded out, 150 pages of interesting story stretched to twice that length, which is why it gets such a small write-up today, and why most people will find themselves rather flying through the manuscript when reading it. It comes somewhat recommended. Out of 10: 8.2

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ross Mclean

    This is the story of the amazing American contribution to the 1889 World's Fair. Americans were the most wonderful, ingenious, wealthy people at the time. The American Otis elevators were a key feature of the Eiffel Tower. Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, American icons and the greatest entertainers of the time feature prominently, as do American newspaper magnates, the American genius Thomas Edison and numerous other American personalities. The 4th of July was a magnificent celebration at the Wor This is the story of the amazing American contribution to the 1889 World's Fair. Americans were the most wonderful, ingenious, wealthy people at the time. The American Otis elevators were a key feature of the Eiffel Tower. Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, American icons and the greatest entertainers of the time feature prominently, as do American newspaper magnates, the American genius Thomas Edison and numerous other American personalities. The 4th of July was a magnificent celebration at the World's Fair that year. There is also mention of Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower, and a number of French artists, although none necessarily with the flair and personality of the great American painter, James Whistler. You will be made aware that this World's Fair took place in Paris, France although it must be noted that the Parisians were absolutely mesmerized by and adoring of the Americans at the time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    There were a lot of interesting anecdotes and characters in this book, in fact the book seemed to be written as an excuse just to compile all these stories rather than make a specific point. I wish there had been more of an argument and more editing to keep it on point.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    I enjoyed reading the first 100 pages or so about Eiffel's creation of the Tower as the centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. Parisians were absolutely horrified and hated the Tower, scoffing at its "modernism" and seriously doubting its safety. The Otis elevators were an absolute pain to develop but perhaps ended up as one of its defining features. Jonnes spends a great deal of the remainder of the book detailing the Fair itself, with special attention paid to French artists, American I enjoyed reading the first 100 pages or so about Eiffel's creation of the Tower as the centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. Parisians were absolutely horrified and hated the Tower, scoffing at its "modernism" and seriously doubting its safety. The Otis elevators were an absolute pain to develop but perhaps ended up as one of its defining features. Jonnes spends a great deal of the remainder of the book detailing the Fair itself, with special attention paid to French artists, American performers, and the impressions of guests. It definitely is worthwhile to detail, but I was not entranced by it. Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley are basically main characters, but I felt she also glossed over larger cultural issues such as the appropriation and denigration engendered towards Native Americans by the depiction of the Sioux in Bill's show for instance. Worth the read for the depiction of the Tower's construction. The Fair bits read like good Erik Larson but without the macabre murder investigation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Gustave Eiffel is most remembered today for the iconic iron lattice tower he built as the gateway to the 1889 World’s Fair. Eiffel, of course, also built the interior framework of the Statue of Liberty. You probably know this, but not much else about the turn of the century engineering genius who designed complex structures (bridges, monuments, lighthouses) all around the world. Eiffel had originally planned to build his tower in Barcelona. When his design for the 1888 Universal Exposition was re Gustave Eiffel is most remembered today for the iconic iron lattice tower he built as the gateway to the 1889 World’s Fair. Eiffel, of course, also built the interior framework of the Statue of Liberty. You probably know this, but not much else about the turn of the century engineering genius who designed complex structures (bridges, monuments, lighthouses) all around the world. Eiffel had originally planned to build his tower in Barcelona. When his design for the 1888 Universal Exposition was rejected by Spain, Eiffel resubmitted his tower for the 1889 Fair, and it was quickly accepted by his fellow countrymen. (One of the competing designs for Paris was an enormous guillotine.) Eiffel was already a famous engineer by then, having completed several challenging bridge projects, but his plan for the Fair was not universally popular. At 300 meters, Eiffel’s tower would be the world’s tallest manmade structure, and despite the engineer’s vast experience, many believed the tower couldn’t possibly withstand the force of the wind. Residents also feared the tower would act as a giant lightning rod or that it might somehow alter local weather patterns. Others viewed the tower design merely as an eyesore. Guy de Maupassant was a particularly vocal critic. When debate continued well into Eiffel’s planned construction schedule, he finally decided to finance much of the cost of the tower himself. He was granted a lease from the city of Paris and planned to recoup his investment by charging admission to the tower. Even so, this was an immense gamble for Eiffel. His lease was scheduled to expire after 20 years (in 1909) and then he would be responsible for tearing down and removing the structure. Under intense pressure, building a structure of unprecedented size and complexity, Eiffel completed the tower in an astounding 22 months, delivering it just in time for the opening of the Fair. Jonnes’ book covers other aspects of the 1889 Fair—Buffalo Bill’s extremely popular Wild West exhibition, Edison’s Hall of Machines, an eccentric newspaper mogul, and any number of temperamental artists—but Eiffel’s tower is the centerpiece of her account. When the tower is completed, a mere 88 pages into the 330 page book, Jonnes’ story loses much of its momentum, degenerating for a while to a who’s-who chronicling of the many celebrities that came to climb the tower and clap Eiffel firmly on the back. After the Fair, the book picks up somewhat. Eiffel never topped the feat of building his tower. After becoming embroiled in France’s disastrous Panama Canal project and even serving some jail time, Eiffel seems to have lost much of the vigor that had characterized his earlier career. And so, he dawdled in the shadow of his greatest creation. Paris agreed to extend Eiffel’s lease by five years, and for a while, the tower became his personal science lab. He built a wind tunnel at the base, eventually making some important contributions to the understanding of wind resistance. With the arrival of WWI, the French government recognized the usefulness of the tower for military observation and radio broadcasting, and the future of Eiffel’s creation was finally secure. If fate hadn’t intervened in the form of a family squabble, Eiffel might have taken over his uncle’s vinegar distillery in Dijon. Rather than building bridges and monuments, Eiffel might have revolutionized the vinegar industry, conceivably, replicating for the palate what a tourist strolling through the Champ de Mars experiences when gazing up at Eiffel’s tower. Yes, this would mean immense loses for the fields of structural engineering and architecture—the Paris skyline. On the other hand, vinegar can be bottled.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    4.5 (liked a lot) This book was a well researched, richly informative and factually interesting story about the origins of the Eiffel Tower in the context of the Paris World Fair Exposition in 1889. The Eiffel Tower, designed by former railroad builder Gustave Eiffel, was a significant accomplishment both architecturally in that it eclipsed the Washington Monument in height and nationally in that the goal was for it to elevate France's image in the world after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian Wa 4.5 (liked a lot) This book was a well researched, richly informative and factually interesting story about the origins of the Eiffel Tower in the context of the Paris World Fair Exposition in 1889. The Eiffel Tower, designed by former railroad builder Gustave Eiffel, was a significant accomplishment both architecturally in that it eclipsed the Washington Monument in height and nationally in that the goal was for it to elevate France's image in the world after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.  However, the project was not without its many critics and obstacles which are well outlined in this book.  From people claiming the Tower was changing the weather patterns to the ominous challenge of raising financial capital for what some considered would be a steel skeleton eyesore in the skyline, Gustave Eiffel encountered resistance requiring perseverance at nearly every turn. This book excels in conveying a wealth of information about the many aspects of the project and the many realms into which it extended (science, politics, finance, culture, media, law, labor, business, etc.), the myriad of individuals (Thomas Edison, Annie Oakley, Paul Gaugin, and many more) who were closely or tangentially connected to the Tower or the Exposition, and descriptions of the Exposition itself.  (There is not much information on the life of Gustave Eiffel but I did not see that as a negative.) Although I was not as interested in as much information as was included about Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, I understand that a fair amount of time was spent on them given they were a popular part of the Exposition. My only minor critiques of the book are that the story jumped around at times so I thought more continuity in the book's structure would have helped, and there was one section in the middle of the book that was a little slow because the story wandered farther off topic to less significant information. Nonetheless, I definitely enjoyed this book and think it may turn out to be one of my favorites of this year.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This was a really interesting book about the building of the Eiffel tower and the 1889 World's Fair in Paris that it anchored. It followed Eiffel and the tower from its concept through its ultimate completion, and the difficulties along the way--including the widespread opposition of many Parisians toward what would ultimately become their quintessential symbol. The tower and the fair also attracted an amazing assortment of Gustave Eiffel's famous contemporaries, including: Thomas Edison; painte This was a really interesting book about the building of the Eiffel tower and the 1889 World's Fair in Paris that it anchored. It followed Eiffel and the tower from its concept through its ultimate completion, and the difficulties along the way--including the widespread opposition of many Parisians toward what would ultimately become their quintessential symbol. The tower and the fair also attracted an amazing assortment of Gustave Eiffel's famous contemporaries, including: Thomas Edison; painters Whistler, van Gogh, Gauguin, and Degas; Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley; Louis Pasteur; and many others. The book also weaves in what else was going on in the world at that time. Having spent a lot of time at the 1964 World's Fair in New York, I was fascinated to think of the differences and similarities in the Paris fair just 75 years earlier. Both had pavilions featuring many things, including inspiring structures, exotic nations and peoples, and the most up-to-date inventions. In 1889, Thomas Edison's phonograph was the big attraction. In 1964 it was the incipient space age. Even the way people dressed had changed dramatically in that time, from dark formal 19th century suits and floor-length dresses to bright casual fair-going attire. A fascinating look at the creation of an icon and at Belle Epoque Paris itself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I thought this was going to be more interesting than it actually was. Having read "The Devil in the White City," maybe I was expecting more from a tale about a legendary World's Fair. Paris may not have had a serial killer, but it had drama and celebrity, no doubt. However, this telling of the events surrounding the World's Fair in Paris was a little dry. The book focuses on several notorious personalities and events associated with the fair, including Eiffel and the controversy surrounding his b I thought this was going to be more interesting than it actually was. Having read "The Devil in the White City," maybe I was expecting more from a tale about a legendary World's Fair. Paris may not have had a serial killer, but it had drama and celebrity, no doubt. However, this telling of the events surrounding the World's Fair in Paris was a little dry. The book focuses on several notorious personalities and events associated with the fair, including Eiffel and the controversy surrounding his building of the Eiffel Tower, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley and their rising celebrity in Europe, Thomas Edison's enthusiastic reception in Paris and artists Van Gogh and Gauguin as they argued in Arles and readied their work for the fair. While each story has its moments, as a whole it's not the sort of utterly compelling read I had hoped for. Still, I learned something and enjoyed the history I wasn't familiar with.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Bang

    I really wanted to like this, but this book has a serious problem with scope. A more accurate title would have been "Paris 1889: the Eiffel Tower, the World's Fair, and some other random stuff." I found everything interesting, it just didn't all belong in *this* book. There were at least a dozen people or groups of people to keep track of and Jonnes did not do a good job of transitioning between all these different characters. Some sections were incredibly short (so just as I remembered what I'd I really wanted to like this, but this book has a serious problem with scope. A more accurate title would have been "Paris 1889: the Eiffel Tower, the World's Fair, and some other random stuff." I found everything interesting, it just didn't all belong in *this* book. There were at least a dozen people or groups of people to keep track of and Jonnes did not do a good job of transitioning between all these different characters. Some sections were incredibly short (so just as I remembered what I'd read about them before, it was on to another character), while others went on for a few pages. And there were definitely several threads that just felt completely tangential to either the Eiffel Tower or the Fair. Jonnes also did not fully explain some things that I felt warranted more than a passing mention. The endnotes were also kind of unsatisfactory.

  14. 5 out of 5

    bup

    I don't know if you've ever watched any Robert Altman films, but that's all I kept thinking about as I read this book. It's a book made of episodes that sometimes intersect, and frequently don't. Lots of "characters" only quasi-belong - Vincent van Gogh? From what I got, he was at the exposition maybe 30 seconds. Gauguin was there only a bit longer, although it was cool to learn he bought a cowboy hat while he was there (souvenir from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show). And in terms of time, the bound I don't know if you've ever watched any Robert Altman films, but that's all I kept thinking about as I read this book. It's a book made of episodes that sometimes intersect, and frequently don't. Lots of "characters" only quasi-belong - Vincent van Gogh? From what I got, he was at the exposition maybe 30 seconds. Gauguin was there only a bit longer, although it was cool to learn he bought a cowboy hat while he was there (souvenir from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show). And in terms of time, the boundaries were again pretty ill-defined, and erred on the side of including irrelevant events. But it's all entertaining enough, and a pleasant collection of stuff.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    Interesting book on the construction of the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 World's Fair. I learned that the original deal was for the tower to remain for 20 years, then dismantled, but the rise of wireless telegraphy (i.e. radio) and looming war changed that. Also learned much about various celebrities of the time, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaughin, James Whistler, Thomas Edison, and others. Interesting book on the construction of the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 World's Fair. I learned that the original deal was for the tower to remain for 20 years, then dismantled, but the rise of wireless telegraphy (i.e. radio) and looming war changed that. Also learned much about various celebrities of the time, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaughin, James Whistler, Thomas Edison, and others.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Disappointing. Some how the author has made the 1889 World's Fair in Paris boring. I mean you've got the building of the Eiffel Tower, French impressionists, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Indians and Annie Oakley - I expected it to be a romp - but alas, it was not. Disappointing. Some how the author has made the 1889 World's Fair in Paris boring. I mean you've got the building of the Eiffel Tower, French impressionists, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Indians and Annie Oakley - I expected it to be a romp - but alas, it was not.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Timons Esaias

    When we were going to Paris, a friend loaned this book to us. My wife read it on the trip, and I finally got my chance after our return. It is certainly entertaining, and I learned a great deal of historical detail I hadn't known before. The title can be said to be slightly misleading, as the focus drifts off the tower itself after the first few chapters; but it's still the organizing icon. Only about a quarter of the text is about Eiffel and the Tower. It is really a discussion of the 1889 World When we were going to Paris, a friend loaned this book to us. My wife read it on the trip, and I finally got my chance after our return. It is certainly entertaining, and I learned a great deal of historical detail I hadn't known before. The title can be said to be slightly misleading, as the focus drifts off the tower itself after the first few chapters; but it's still the organizing icon. Only about a quarter of the text is about Eiffel and the Tower. It is really a discussion of the 1889 World's Fair, including the off-campus Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that happened simultaneously. Much of the text is a series of overlapping mini-biographies of people associated with the Fair: James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Thomas A. Edison, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Gauguin, Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Whitelaw Reid, Rosa Bonheur, and (perhaps oddly) Vincent Van Gogh. (Van Gogh seems to have utterly avoided the Fair, and not to have had his art displayed there, so the justification for his inclusion in the story is rather indirect.) Many of the details and micro-stories are priceless, as is the arc of the story from enormous initial resistance to the building of the Tower, to the eventual realization that it is a world icon. The tepid support for the decision not to tear it down after its 20-year contract would expire tells one a lot about aesthetics and bureaucrats. Guy de Maupassant: "I left Paris and even France, because the Eiffel Tower just annoyed me too much. Not only did you see it from everywhere; you found it everywhere made out of every known material, displayed in all the shop windows, an unavoidable and horrible nightmare." He also called it "this giant and disgraceful skeleton with a base that seems made to support a formidable monument of Cyclops and which aborts into the thin, ridiculous profile of a factory chimney." Hmmm. Maybe they should take it down, then?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nina Ive

    The subject matter was interesting, but reading it was hard. There was clearly a lot of research went into collating and building a story. However, it could have been told just as effectively in 50 pages or less. What I liked about it: that the Eiffel Tower was so controversial, that the contract was for 20 years and then it was supposed to be pulled down! That only 3 people died constructing it, 1,000 feet off the ground in the 1880's! That's an achievement. I liked some of the interweaving sto The subject matter was interesting, but reading it was hard. There was clearly a lot of research went into collating and building a story. However, it could have been told just as effectively in 50 pages or less. What I liked about it: that the Eiffel Tower was so controversial, that the contract was for 20 years and then it was supposed to be pulled down! That only 3 people died constructing it, 1,000 feet off the ground in the 1880's! That's an achievement. I liked some of the interweaving stories about Vincent van gogh, Thomas Edison, and Buffalo Bill. I was also amazed that after such success with the Eiffel Tower, Eiffel himself was imprisoned for the profits he made on the failed Panama canal project. Thankfully the decision was appealed and he was released after a week. So, good history, but I'm glad it's over.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom Barber

    Disclaimer: I am a schoolteacher and I was given the abridged, junior version of this book, so that's what I read. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think Jonnes did an excellent job of putting the reader in the world of La Belle Epoque. It was an amazing time, when, at the World's Fair in Paris, many people got their first taste of fear of heights! Besides reading about the construction of the tower, I also enjoyed learning about the American interactions with the Fair. The author quickly informs us th Disclaimer: I am a schoolteacher and I was given the abridged, junior version of this book, so that's what I read. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think Jonnes did an excellent job of putting the reader in the world of La Belle Epoque. It was an amazing time, when, at the World's Fair in Paris, many people got their first taste of fear of heights! Besides reading about the construction of the tower, I also enjoyed learning about the American interactions with the Fair. The author quickly informs us that, because the Fair commemorated the French Revolution, many European nations chose not to participate and as a result the American role was of even more significance than it would otherwise have been. Lastly, I very much enjoyed the photographs which, presumably, are included in the adult version as well!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Romy

    I absolutely LOVED this book and I would give it 10 stars. I'd never thought much about the history of the Eiffel Tower but I was intrigued when I saw this title at the bookstore. It's great read because the writing really brings the characters to life in a way that is so engaging and refreshing. The book is the story of the World's Fair in Paris and the building of the Eiffel Tower as part of the Fair. It goes into just enough detail about the engineering and building of the Tower, but not too I absolutely LOVED this book and I would give it 10 stars. I'd never thought much about the history of the Eiffel Tower but I was intrigued when I saw this title at the bookstore. It's great read because the writing really brings the characters to life in a way that is so engaging and refreshing. The book is the story of the World's Fair in Paris and the building of the Eiffel Tower as part of the Fair. It goes into just enough detail about the engineering and building of the Tower, but not too much technicalities so as to bore people like myself aren't techies. The book focuses on the human element, the personalities of characters such as Gustave Eiffel of course, but also Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, the editor of the Paris Herald newspaper which later became the Herald Tribune, etc. The stories and anecdotes are very enjoyable as well as informative. In particular for me it was interesting to have another perspective on Thomas Edison, who frankly I had always heard was kind of a jerk, and in this book comes across as quite a genial genius - sorry couldn't resist! I highly recommend this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Enderle

    Enjoyable narrative of the building of the tower and the people who went to see it. This book entertainingly provided a slice of late-19th century life in Paris, and will certainly make my experience at the *Tour en Fer* richer! I wonder if I'll get a certificate as an ascensionniste?! Enjoyable narrative of the building of the tower and the people who went to see it. This book entertainingly provided a slice of late-19th century life in Paris, and will certainly make my experience at the *Tour en Fer* richer! I wonder if I'll get a certificate as an ascensionniste?!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schmitz

    Pick this up in the airport in NY on the way to Spain and France. Easy read with lots of interwoven facts. The organizers of the 1889 Paris world's fair wanted to build some towering monument to be the centerpiece of their exposition. Many structures were submitted including a giant guillotine but in the end Gustaf Eiffel's unique steel tower was chosen. Though Eiffel at this time was a famous bridge engineer and builder there was no precedent for building such a tower. There was much opposition. Pick this up in the airport in NY on the way to Spain and France. Easy read with lots of interwoven facts. The organizers of the 1889 Paris world's fair wanted to build some towering monument to be the centerpiece of their exposition. Many structures were submitted including a giant guillotine but in the end Gustaf Eiffel's unique steel tower was chosen. Though Eiffel at this time was a famous bridge engineer and builder there was no precedent for building such a tower. There was much opposition. Residents sued because it would block their view. People felt they might get electrocuted when lightning hit the tower, or that it would become a giant magnet and pull the nails out of surrounding buildings. 47 of Paris most famous artists and intellectuals signed a protest stating that the tower was ridiculous like a gigantic black factory chimney. It would be when completed the highest man-made structure in the world. Of course it became wildly popular during the fair. Before this people did not have the opportunity to get so high and to look so straight down something we take as unremarkable today. The tower was supposed to be torn down after the fair. Eiffel argued that it was a good observation post for the military and when Marconi invented the radio Eiffel had one installed at the top at his own expense in 1903 and transmitted signals across the English Channel. This helped the committee in charge to finally agree to leave the tower standing. The book describes the three major attractions of the fair: the Eiffel Tower, Buffalo Bills wild West show, and the Thomas Edison pavilion. Some tidbits. Mark twain: "France has neither winter, nor summer, nor morals." Thomas Edison visited the fair where his new phonograph was wildly popular and he was hailed as a hero by admiring throngs. He commented on how little work the French did. On the steamship returning to the US he commented that the ocean waves were such a vast amount of power waiting to be harnessed and that he saw no reason why there shouldn't be a device where you could see the person you were talking to on the telephone. But then of course, after inventing the kinescope the forerunner of moving pictures, he said that he didn't think it would amount to anything. It was immediately a huge success people paying a nickel for a 90sec film. Annie Oakley could in fact shoot coins out of the air, was quiet, dignified and treated the lowly and kings equally. She had been held essentially as a slave as a young girl in Ohio where she was from and had never been west of the Mississippi. She retired partly in Pinehurst NC. James Gordon Bennett owner of the New York Herald and very wealthy man set up the Paris Herald during the world's fair and ran it at a loss for years. The Herald was eventually shut down by an investigation started by William Randolph Hearst into the previously long ignored personal columns in the Herald. These were such things as "a woman finds paddling her own canoe dreary task, seeks a manly pilot," or "young lady, good figure, wants to pose for artists," or "masseuses with highly magnetic manners." We have nothing on them today. Paul Gaugin was not selected to show his paintings at the French painting exhibition. He showed them in a Arab Café across the street but did not manage to sell a single one. If only I had been there.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    The subject matter (the 1889 Exposition in Paris) and cover of this book seem designed to invite comparison with Erik Larsen's The Devil in the White City. This book is similar in that it weaves together a number of stories of various historical figures whose paths crossed in Paris on this particular summer (Eiffel and the challenge of constructing the tower, Gauguin, Whistler, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, etc.), but the structure is somewhat less determined by the subjects themsel The subject matter (the 1889 Exposition in Paris) and cover of this book seem designed to invite comparison with Erik Larsen's The Devil in the White City. This book is similar in that it weaves together a number of stories of various historical figures whose paths crossed in Paris on this particular summer (Eiffel and the challenge of constructing the tower, Gauguin, Whistler, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, etc.), but the structure is somewhat less determined by the subjects themselves. In Larsen's book, two central narratives (planning and preparing the fair, and the crimes and capture of Dr. Hill) drive the story, where here the narrative periodically returns to each character as the summer marches on. This varies from the relatively momentous (e.g., Edison's trip to Paris where he meets many luminaries and is lauded as a genius) to the fairly random (newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett, for example, is revisited every once in a while, but seemingly for no reason other than to tell more anecdotes about how he would randomly, and drunkenly, fire his employees). While this makes for an interested read, with lots of rich historical tidbits, neither the fair nor the tower that provide the backdrop really do much to tie the strands together.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Hruby

    Not a fast read, but still very readable and incredibly interesting. I learned a great deal, especially about Eiffel and his tower, but Jonnes also covers so much else about the 1889 Paris World's Fair, from artists like Gaugin, van Gogh, and Whistler, to personalities like newspaperman James Gordon Bennett, entertainer Buffalo Bill Cody, and inventor Thomas Edison. Sometimes I felt like Jonnes' scope was just too broad--there was so much information; but then other times I was equally as gratef Not a fast read, but still very readable and incredibly interesting. I learned a great deal, especially about Eiffel and his tower, but Jonnes also covers so much else about the 1889 Paris World's Fair, from artists like Gaugin, van Gogh, and Whistler, to personalities like newspaperman James Gordon Bennett, entertainer Buffalo Bill Cody, and inventor Thomas Edison. Sometimes I felt like Jonnes' scope was just too broad--there was so much information; but then other times I was equally as grateful for that breadth of information. Jonnes takes you from the set-up and organization of the fair, through its six glorious months, and then even spends a hefty concluding chapter telling you how all the major players ended up in their lives and how history regards them today. Quite satisfying overall. Many reviews compare this to "Devil in the White City," almost inevitably, and usually giving Larson's book the preference. Personally, I liked this one better.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brooks

    Interesting story of the 1890 World's Fair in Paris. It was really four separate biographies that were weakly tied together - World's fair, Eiffel, Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin, and Thomas Edison. The best story to me was Eiffel - railroad engineer who was designing bridgers in the French Colonies. He made a lot of money with his company. He proposes this massive tower (three times larger than anything previously built). Since he is not an architect, he faces a lo Interesting story of the 1890 World's Fair in Paris. It was really four separate biographies that were weakly tied together - World's fair, Eiffel, Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin, and Thomas Edison. The best story to me was Eiffel - railroad engineer who was designing bridgers in the French Colonies. He made a lot of money with his company. He proposes this massive tower (three times larger than anything previously built). Since he is not an architect, he faces a lot of criticism. But France had a lot to prove at this time (inferiority to British and American industry). In fact, most of Europe refused to participate in the fair - it was mostly USA and french colonies.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Vivid social history recreating the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, at which Gustav Eiffel unveiled his creation, the French showed off their exotic empire and attempted to demonstrate the stability of the Third Republic, Americans made cultural and political attempts to enter the arena of "Great Powers" and Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley charmed the crowned heads. And Paul Gauguin bought a cowboy hat Vivid social history recreating the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, at which Gustav Eiffel unveiled his creation, the French showed off their exotic empire and attempted to demonstrate the stability of the Third Republic, Americans made cultural and political attempts to enter the arena of "Great Powers" and Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley charmed the crowned heads. And Paul Gauguin bought a cowboy hat

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    It works as a piece of skillful scholarship AND as the kind of book to take with you on an airplane journey. It never outstays its welcome, and it actually leaves you panting for a sequel. But like the Eiffel Tower itself, this book stands on its own merits, inimitable. Thoroughly enjoyable, and thoroughly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I wanted to like this more than I did. Perhaps I am biased by Erik Larsen' s Devil in the White house City (about the Chicago World's Fair), but I feel this one barely scratched the surface of many fascinating aspects (as listed in the subtitle). Overall, pretty informative and a nice introduction to this particular World's Fair for me. I wanted to like this more than I did. Perhaps I am biased by Erik Larsen' s Devil in the White house City (about the Chicago World's Fair), but I feel this one barely scratched the surface of many fascinating aspects (as listed in the subtitle). Overall, pretty informative and a nice introduction to this particular World's Fair for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Hirschler

    A good book about the Eiffel Tower and the World's Fair for which it was built. I learned a lot about Gustave Eiffel and the other main characters surrounding the event near the end of the 19th century, such as Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, the Van Gogh brothers, and many other famous artists. The Eiffel Tower itself is an engineering marvel and I would like to see it some day. A good book about the Eiffel Tower and the World's Fair for which it was built. I learned a lot about Gustave Eiffel and the other main characters surrounding the event near the end of the 19th century, such as Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, the Van Gogh brothers, and many other famous artists. The Eiffel Tower itself is an engineering marvel and I would like to see it some day.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I enjoyed the first third of the book the most. It was all about the actual building of the Eiffel Tower. I didn't find the Buffalo Bill history or the painters as interesting (with the exception of Van Gogh), but with Jonnes' writing I felt completely immersed in the past. I enjoyed the first third of the book the most. It was all about the actual building of the Eiffel Tower. I didn't find the Buffalo Bill history or the painters as interesting (with the exception of Van Gogh), but with Jonnes' writing I felt completely immersed in the past.

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.