When Paris Sizzled: The 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and Their Friends

Mary McAuliffe. Rowman & Littlefield, $29.95 (344p) ISBN 978-1-4422-5332-2
McAuliffe follows Dawn of the Belle Epoque with another breezy, brisk, well-researched work about Paris, this time focusing on the dazzling figures populating the once-denigrated Paris neighborhood of Montparnasse at its mesmerizing peak. “The Lost Generation” of expat writers and artists helped transform Montparnasse into a culturally rich, tumultuous community where the luminous and daring Josephine Baker danced, Gertrude Stein kvetched about James Joyce, and the taxi horns provided inspiration for George Gershwin. Not surprisingly, the area’s notoriety only grew with the proliferation of the expats and artists’ casual and often rash affairs, drug use (especially Jean Cocteau’s opium addiction), and other self-indulgent behaviors aided by reckless spending. Weaving in key advancements in cultural production (music, architecture, theater, film) and technological evolution in the automobile industry, McAuliffe smartly keeps her eye on political events in Paris as well as in central Europe, especially the increasing popularity of far-right movements and Charles de Gaulle’s rise in the French military. McAuliffe recreates a lush, gorgeous world filled with talented, yet immensely flawed innovators who experienced les années folles (“the crazy years”) as a rare escape into creativity, glamor, and respite from the sobering reality of a world prone to devastating wars. Illus.(Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 344 pages - 978-1-4422-5333-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6925-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1925-4
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