Review by Choice Review
One of the glories of Robert Darnton's books, as students of French history well know, is that they are so readable. In this series of brilliant essays, Darnton begins by looking back at significant moments in his own life, including his years as a police reporter for The Newark Star Ledger and The New York Times, his travels in Poland in the early days of the Solidarity movement, and a tour of duty on the editorial board of the Princeton University Press. There is a theme to all these pieces--the relationship of the media to history--which Darnton addresses directly in the major portion of the book. Here Darnton consideres the authors and readers of 18th-century France, as well as the printers and booksellers who linked writers to their public. Although presenting his own conclusions, Darnton also comments on the scholarship of other historians and does so with rigor and lucidity. The Kiss of Lamourette is a book with an unlikely title (one that the author explains in his opening pages) and surprising impact. It is not only a significant contribution to the knowledge of 18th-century society, but it also stands as a major inventory of new developments in historical technique. College, university, and public libraries. -S. Bailey, Knox College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
When bishop Antoine Lamourette, a deputy in the French Revolution, proposed fraternal love as the key to uniting divided factions, his speech moved members of the legislative assembly to hugs and kisses. Taking this event as a starting point, Darnton ( The Great Cat Massacre ) ponders ``what was so revolutionary'' about the Revolution in an essay that serves as a welcome antidote to the current spate of revisionist histories of that upheaval. An uneven mix of popular and specialized academic writings, this collection is best displaying Darnton's willingness to delve beneath the surface of events. One piece shows how the power structure of the New York Times helps determine ``all the news that's fit to print.'' Other articles explore the historical consciousness of Poland's Solidarity members, how the media interpret the past, crime and popular literature during the Enlightenment, a history of reading habits. There's also a tongue-in-cheek survival guide for unpublished authors. Photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
From the author of The Literary Underground and the Old Regime, The Business of Enlightenment, and the much-praised The Great Cat Massacre, another engagingly idiosyncratic collection of essays offering illuminating glimpses into both the alien past and the often alien methods used by contemporary historians to explore it. Much of the territory covered here will be familiar to readers of Damton's previous works. A specialist in 18th-century France and cultural history, Darnton returns to multidisciplinary considerations of the diffusion of Enlightenment culture through the various stages of that period's publishing industry. While looking into the workings of various disciplines in establishing histories of reading and the book, he reveals waxing and waning prominence in styles of history. In an essay on modern Poland, Darnton demonstrates the immediacy and importance of history to people: Where the Party controls official history, the date attributed to the infamous Katya massacre is of immense significance. In ""Media,"" a section of lighter but no less enlightening essays, Darnton draws upon his experiences as a reporter for The New York Times to demonstrate the many unspoken influences that determine what becomes news and how it is reported, and offers some tongue-in-cheek lips to academic authors. Darnton expects his readers to work, but he makes it well worth the effort. While ideas and insights fly from his pages like sparks, he offers the layperson confronting the edifice of modern historic inquiry a lever long enough to break into its treasures, and a place to stand. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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