Jonnes has created a very readable book about the building of the Eiffel Tower and the fight to get it built. But what really captures the interest is the subheading of Jonnes book: Where Buffalo Bill beguiled Paris, the artists quarreled, and Thomas Edison became a count.
Many European countries refused to participate in this World's Fair because they felt that France would be showcasing the one-hundred year anniversary of the loss of the monarchy. Countries with monarchies, hello England, did not want to celebrate anything having to do with THAT anniversary.
Because of this controversy, France was worried about the failure of their World's Fair. Everything came under tremendous scrutiny. So even though Gustave Eiffel was a well-respected engineer, there was still a fear that the Eiffel Tower was not the right monument to showcase France's great achievements in the past century.
Enter the Americans. America was still the new kids on the block. (We don't really get to be major players on the world stage until after the World Wars.) But it was the Americans who save the day and help to make the 1889 World's Fair one of the most exciting. Thomas Edison brings his phonograph to the fair. People hear recorded voice and sound for the first time. It is also the first fair to use Edison's lighting . It is from this World's Fair that Paris gets the moniker, "City of Lights."
Buffalo Bill brings his show and sells out for six straight months, two shows a day. Annie Oakley is the big star as are the Sioux Indians. James MacNeil Whistler, famed for the painting nicknamed "Whistler's Mother," gets into a huff about the restriction of the number of paintings he can submit. Fights with other artists, including Gauguin, ensue.
A very engaging book about very creative people in the midst of life-changing times. There are pictures that help to show the story. If you've ever looked at the Eiffel Tower either in person or in pictures you may be unimpressed in a world of 1/2 mile high buildings. But this book will help you appreciate the building of it, the artistry, and a time long passed.