Paris The Secret History

Andrew Hussey

Bloomsbury USA



512 Pages


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In this thorough account of two thousand years of the Parisian counterculture, Andrew Hussey reveals the story of the City of Light from the point of view of the Parisians themselves: the working classes and the criminals, the existentialists and insurrectionists, the street urchins and artists, the propagandists and prostitutes. Paris: The Secret History ranges across centuries and through wars, revolution, starvation, and terror just as it celebrates the art, beauty, romance, and literature that have made Paris the world's most beloved city. 
"In its long and vast history," writes Hussey, "Paris has been variously represented as a prison, a paradise and a vision of hell. It has also been characterized as a beautiful woman, a sorceress and a demon." As Hussey shows in this remarkable book, sometimes literature really is an accurate reflection of daily life: Paris is indeed a city of contradictions. Yes, the history of Paris is one of princes and palaces, but Paris is the city where, after centuries of bloody conflict, the people's revolution was invented. Hussey introduces us to the myriad Parisians who have left their marks on the city: the classes dangereuses, parigot (working classes), trublions (disturbers of the peace), and petites gens (ordinary people). He walks readers past the tourist attractions and through a maze of secret adventures and hidden meanings. Above all, Paris is a history book written to be used; it can be taken on the metro, to a bar, or into the heart of the labyrinth itself. Erudite and engaging, this is a vivid portrait of an endlessly fascinating city and culture.


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Andrew Hussey is a cultural historian and biographer. His previous book, a critically acclaimed biography of Guy Debord, was published in 2001. He is lecturer in French studies at the University of Aberystwyth and divides his time between Ireland, Wales, and Paris.

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  • Andrew Hussey

  • Andrew Hussey is a cultural historian and biographer. His acclaimed biography of Guy Debord was published in 2001. He is the head of French and Comparative Literature at the University of London Institute in Paris.
  • Andrew Hussey