The Assassination of Paris (People and Places, 1985, and reprinted in Paris and Elsewhere, ed. David Gilmour, 1998)


by Richard Cobb (1917 - 1996)

Not so much a book review as a book abridgement, the historian Richard Cobb adds his own passionate style and personal observations to the, presumably drier, Yale research of one Prof. Evenson regarding Paris’ architectural history, 1878-1978.

Cobb is fascinated by unrealised plans of figures like Le Courbusier and Pompidou who, he argues, truly hated history. He bemoans the exodus of Paris’ residents, especially poor immigrant residents, to soul-destroying suburban high-rises, killing areas like the Marais. The particulars are of use only to those who know Paris well, but the historical pattern drawn by Cobb’s spiky prose is highly memorable.

Related recommendation: Cobb’s ‘The Bon Marché’ (in The New York Review of Books, July 1981, and collected in People and Places)

Origin: Britain

Themes: Nature or Architecture/ Material Environment, History

Genres: Critical, Polemical or Political

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