Michael Patrick Brady

Books

Paris From The Ground Up | James McGregor

May 7, 2009

Paris

My review of Paris From The Ground Up, by James McGregor ran today at PopMatters.

I’m about to take my first trip to Paris this coming May, and was excited to dig into this book. While it is full of excellent trivia and tidbits, I think McGregor’s attempt to fit six thousand years of history, culture, and art into a slim, hardcover book was a bit overambitious. Entire books could be written about topics that McGregor only addresses in passing; obviously he cannot expand upon every single aspect of Parisian culture, and I don’t fault him for that. However, the stray observances pique the interest, and knowing that those tangents are not going to delve deeper or resolve is frustrating.

Paris is so rich and full of stories that a complete account of its existence may be beyond the scope of what can be accomplished in such limited dimensions.

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2 Comments


  • 1. Robin Collins  |  July 22nd, 2009 at 10:19 am

    You’re criticizing him for attempting to condense? Do you think he should have written a 70,000 page tome instead? What’s your point…

  • 2. mpb  |  July 22nd, 2009 at 10:48 am

    My point is that he should have focused, rather than condense. As I say in the post, “obviously he cannot expand upon every single aspect of Parisian culture, and I don’t fault him for that.” I think the book would be stronger if McGregor resisted the urge to chronicle absolutely everything in detail and been more selective in his scope.