My Paris Bookshop - books and all things romantic Paris for you to browse and love (and buy if you wish)


Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

Read More (below) or Click Cover at Right for Amazon

Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

Highly recommended by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, among other top critics. It's the story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary 1889 world’s fair that introduced it, by the acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham and Urban Forests

In this first general history of the Eiffel Tower in English, acclaimed author Jill Jonnes offers an eye- opening look not only at the construction of one of the modern world's most iconic structures, but also the epochal event that surrounded its arrival as a wonder of the world. In this marvelously entertaining portrait of Belle Époque France, fear and loathing over Eiffel's brash design share the spotlight with the celebrities that made the 1889 Exposition Universelle an event to remember-including Buffalo Bill and his sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and artists Whistler, Gauguin, and van Gogh. Eiffel's Tower is a richly textured portrait of an era at the dawn of modernity, reveling in the limitless promise of the future.


Note by Jean-Thomas Cullen. I own a copy, and agree with the following pseudonymous reviewer. If you have a reasonable knowledge of history, and seek more depth, this is a very readable book. I am using it as one of my research sources for a novel I am writing about Paris in the 1880s. This isn't to be critical of anyone, but readers looking for something light (escape fantasy, no effort needed) should look elsewhere. If you want a remarkably well researched, chewy read—here's a great one for you. As always, history is context. Jill Jonnes dishes up the main course (Eiffel info) amid a wealth of relevant side dishes.

Five Stars During the restoration of the Statue of Liberty some years ago, I supervised several museum projects relating to its history and construction, which attracted me to the life and work of the famous French engineer, Gustave Eiffel. Everyone knows that his company designed and built the Eiffel Tower, but few know that they were also responsible for the internal support structure of America's most famous symbol. The builder of a number of remarkable railroad viaducts including the magnificent Garabit bridge, Eiffel immortalized himself with the unprecedented construction of the 300 meter tower, known to all the world as the Eiffel Tower.

So, when any books appear on the market relating to Eiffel, I feel compelled to have it. Such was true when I came across Jill Jonnes' newest publication, "Eiffel's Tower," I bought it. And from the day it arrived as I perused the first few pages, I found it utterly irresistible. Confronted with the life of a very complex personality and a long list of masterful achievements as is the case with Eiffel, Jonnes sensibly keeps her focus on the building of the tower as the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition, but sets it in the context of the many other fascinating individuals whose lives and activities--at least for a time--revolved around the tower. As the tower gradually rises to the heavens in the face of mounting controversy and public criticism, it serves as a backdrop to a veritable who's who of characters, including Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Alva Edison, Rosa Bonheur, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and James McNeill Whistler, whose various adventures are played out in its ever-extending shadow.

Jonnes' well-researched account does not ignore the engineering aspects of the Tower's construction, such as the frustrating problems with the installation of the elevator system, but she knows the right moment to pull away and pick up on any one of the several story-lines that gradually evolve throughout the book. As history, it has the taste and feel of really good fiction. But don't expect a dry historical kind of ending, which in so many cases, merely . . . .ends. "Eiffel's Tower" concludes in triumph and tragedy with the completion of the tower to world-wide praise and recognition on all sides (well, almost), followed by the Panama Canal disaster which fell heavily on the shoulders of Eiffel. Highly recommended.—by Reviewer 'Classical Curiosities' at