Best Paris History Books

frenchrevolutionbookEven when you’ve got your day-to-day bearings in Paris and feeling finally like your head is staying above water, there’s still plenty to learn. Whether it’s knowing the significance of the street names in your quartier, keeping all those King Louis straight, or understanding better why French society operates the way it does, reading a bit of history may be just the ticket. Here are a few of our favorites. Most of these titles can be found in the English language bookshops in Paris or at The American Library in Paris.
A good place to learn about the French Revolution is Harvard history professor Simon Schama’s Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, published on its 200th anniversary. The events leading up to the Revolution, the accidents of fate and circumstance that could have rendered a completely different outcome, and the players large and small who were at its center are all laid out for the reader to savor in a very accessible style. Don’t be put off by the 875 pages of text (and an additional 75 for notes and index) — it holds up extraordinarily well.

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