Adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
Weaving together the behind-the-scenes history of the Eiffel Tower with an account of the 1889 World's Fair in Paris for which the tower was built, Jonnes creates a vivid, lively pageant of people and cultures meeting—and competing.
The book opens a window into a piece of the past that, in its passions and politics, feels timelessly modern: art, science, business, entertainment, gossip, royalty, and national pride mingle in an unforgettable portrait of a unique moment in history, when Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley became the toasts of Paris and Gustave Eiffel, builder of the tower, rose to the pinnacle of fame, only to suffer a tragic fall from grace.
Above all, the 1889 World's Fair revolved around two nations, whose potent symbols were the twin poles of the fair. France, with its long history of sophistication and cultivation, and with a new republican government eager for the country to take its place at the forefront of the modern world, presented the Eiffel Tower—the world's tallest structure--as a symbol of national pride and engineering superiority. The United States, with its brash, can-do spirit, full of pride in its frontier and its ingenuity, presented the rollicking Wild West show of Buffalo Bill Cody and the marvelous new phonograph of Thomas Edison.
Eiffel, Cody, Oakley, and Edison are just a few of the characters who populate Jonnes's dramatic history. There are also squabbling artists, a notorious newspaperman, and a generous sprinkling of royalty from around the world. Some of them emerged from the World's Fair of 1889 winners, some losers, but neither they nor any among the vast crowds who attended the fair ever forgot it. The drama, color, and personalities that made the adult book so fascinating and critically acclaimed, are all here in spades as adapted for middle grade and above by Rebecca Stefoff.
Check out our Eiffel's Tower for Young People Teaching Guide here.