The Fortifications of Paris: An Illustrated History (BOOK REVIEW)

The Fortifications of Paris: An Illustrated History, by Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. Pp. viii, 264. Illus, plans, append., biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0786461004.


Arguably, Paris would not have become the capitol of France were it not for its defenses, which this very well-illustrated work examines, from Gallic times through the twentieth century.

LePage, author of such works as French Fortifications, 1715-1815andMedieval Armies and Weapons in Western Europe, not only gives the reader a large number of detailed plans and maps of the city’s defenses over the ages, but also provides a useful, and very often overlooked, explanation of the strategic and technological developments that led to the successive revisions of the city’s defenses.  He covers all the principal sieges of the city well, and most notably the Viking investment of 885-886, the Prussian-German siege of 1870-1871, and preparations for siege in the weeks before the Battle of the Marne in 1914.  The result is more than a look at the defenses of Paris, but is a handbook of western fortification strategy and technology.

An important book for anyone interested in French history or in fortifications.


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