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Paris Sewers And Sewermen: Realities And Representations

The expansion of the Paris sewer system during the Second Empire and Third Republic was both a technological and a political triumph. The sewers themselves were an important cultural phenomenon, and the men who worked in them a source of fascination. Donald Reid shows that observing how such labourers as cesspool cleaners and sewermen present themselves and are represented by others is a way to reflect on the material and cultural foundations of everyday life. The author has been awarded the Dexter Prize of the Society for the History of Technology, and has also been accorded an Honourable Mention by the 1992 Abel Wolman Award Committee of the Public Works Historical Society.

Paperback: 248 pages

Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 1, 1993)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0674654633

ISBN-13: 978-0674654631

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #293 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Civil & Environmental > Environmental > Waste Management #1337 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > City Planning & Urban Development #1361 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Urban Planning & Development

This book is a history of the Paris sewer system, replete with the symbolism entailed by the sewer through the ages. It is divided into 3 parts: the sewers and their development, sewermen, and the sewermen's union. Reid traces the development of the sewer system from the times when waste collected in open pools, through the draining of the pools into the Seine and the eventual laws requiring private buildings to connect to the sewers. From almost the very beginning, the sewers needed workers to clear the sediment away and keep the sewage flowing, and Reid explains how the work of the sewermen, as the laborers in the sewer are called, changed over the course of time. Reid also discusses the sewermen's union and the efforts they made not only to assure the security and well-being of the workers, but also to take care of the workers' family members. The book is illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs and drawings. Sources are referenced through extensive end notes. There is also an index.For Reid, the history of the sewer is found not only in the tunnels themselves and their dates of construction, but also in literature, particularly Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, and other similar works where the sewer has powerful symbolic meanings. While the book is quite interesting from the point of view of public health and city planning, it can be hard to follow at times for those who are not fluent in French, or not thoroughly familiar with Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century French literature and history. Reid leaves many quotes and key terms untranslated from French, assuming that the reader will be able to understand their meanings precisely.

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