Tales of Two Cities

Paris, London and the Birth of the Modern City

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Book Description

Paris and London have long held a mutual fascination, and never more so than in the period 1750–1914, when they vied to be the world’s greatest city. Each city has been the focus of many books, yet Jonathan Conlin here explores the complex relationship between them for the first time. The reach and influence of both cities was such that the story of their rivalry has global implications. By borrowing, imitating and learning from each other Paris and London invented the true metropolis.

Tales of Two Cities examines and compares five urban spaces—the pleasure garden, the cemetery, the apartment, the restaurant and the music hall—that defined urban modernity in the nineteenth century. The citizens of Paris and London first created these essential features of the modern cityscape and so defined urban living for all of us.

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Praise For This Book

Praise for Tales of Two Cities:

"What Conlin achieves with this history of influences is an entertaining account that strings together fascinating factoids into a tapestry of urban history and cultural anthropology. . .[He] weaves together a web of interactions and accounts from both fiction and nonfiction sources. He does this with the straightforward prose of a journalist and the intellectual imagination of a historian."—New York Journal of Books

"In exploring this subject in depth, Conlin has made a most useful addition to the history of cities and the people who inhabit them."—The Washington Post

"Full of unexpected facts. . .Conlin's case studies of possible cultural exchange are both concise and entertaining."—New York Times Book Review