SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Seine: The River That Made Paris

Norton. Oct. 2019. 304p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393609356. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393609363. TRAV
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There are rivers that are longer (Nile), deeper (Congo), wider (Amazon), and busier (Yangtze). There are rivers that are the largest in Europe (Volga), traverse more countries (Danube), and flow through major cities (Thames and Hudson). But, as Sciolino (The Only Street in Paris) points out, there are few more iconic, romantic, and beloved bodies of water in the world than the Seine. In tracing the river’s geographic course from a small French village in Burgundy through Paris to the massive international port of Le Havre, the author also affectionately describes its origins in Roman antiquity to the role played by the Seine in quelling the 2019 Notre Dame cathedral fire. Written in an enjoyable journalistic style, the book is both a travelog and a cultural history of not only the river itself but the people who have lived, worked, and taken inspiration from it as it winds its way to the sea. For them, the phrase sur la Seine is the meaning of life itself.
VERDICT For readers who have walked along the banks of the Seine or dream of someday doing so, this love letter to a river is highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/28/19.]

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