City of Light, City of Shadows

Paris in the Belle Époque


By Mike Rapport

Read by Paul Daintry

Formats and Prices





  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $31.99
  2. ebook $19.99 $25.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $35.00 $45.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 14, 2024. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A top historian offers a new history of Paris’s Belle Époque, the luminous age of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, but also of social unrest and violent clashes over what it meant to be French

From the wrought ironwork of the Eiffel Tower to the flourishing art nouveau movement, the Belle Époque is remembered as a golden age for Parisian culture. Beneath the veneer of elegance, however, fin de siècle Paris was a city at war with itself.  
In City of Light, City of Shadows, Mike Rapport uncovers a Paris riven by social anxieties and plagued by overlapping epidemics of poverty, political extremism, and anti-Semitism. As the Sacré-Cœur and Eiffel Tower rose into the skies, redefining architecture and the Paris skyline, Paris’s slums were plagued by disease and gang violence. The era, now remembered as a high point of French art and culture, was also an age of intense political violence, including anarchist bombings, organized right-wing mobs, and assassinations. 
Weaving together these stories of splendor and suffering with the fabric of the city itself, the book offers a brilliant account of Paris’s Belle Époque—revealing the darkness that suffused the City of Light. 

  • “Mike Rapport is a historian with the rare ability to engage his reader both on the level of local detail and sweeping narrative. City of Light, City of Shadows had me spellbound.”
    Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse
  • “In this book, which fizzes with all the energy of Belle Époque Paris, Rapport conveys superbly the conflicts, tension, and anxieties underlaying the glittering spectacle of Parisian modernity. His narrative is brilliantly anchored in the spaces and places of the city. For lovers of Paris, the book should become an indispensable accompaniment to any future visit to the city.”
    Julian Jackson, author of De Gaulle
  • “A fascinating, multilayered panorama of the evolution of the French capital at a key period in its history.”
    Jonathan Fenby, author of France: A Modern History from the Revolution to the War With Terror

On Sale
May 14, 2024
Hachette Audio

Mike Rapport

About the Author

Mike Rapport is a professor of history at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. The author of 1848: Year of Revolution, The Napoleonic Wars, and The Unruly City: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution, Rapport lives in Stirling, Scotland.

Learn more about this author