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Elihu Washburne: The Diary and Letters of America's Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris
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Elihu Washburne: The Diary and Letters of America's Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  38 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This is the remarkable and inspiring story—told largely in his own words— of American diplomat Elihu Washburne, who heroically aided his countrymen and other foreign nationals when Paris was devastated by war and revolutionin1870–71. Elihu Washburne rose from a hardscrabble existence in New England and the Midwest to become a congressman and diplomat. A confidante of Linco ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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Rob Slaven
I received this book as part of a GoodReads drawing and despite the low-low price of ‘absolutely nothing’ I give my candid opinions below.

When I first sat down with this book it was with a bit of concern. Having somewhat recently taken my hand at Samuel Pepys I was expecting a similar regurgitation of the day-to-day life of our subject diplomat. I was pleasantly and quickly relieved to find that unlike previous publishers of similar material, Michael Hill has taken much greater care to craft a m
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads. It chronicles a really remarkable story. Michael Hill was David McCullough's research assistant, and this book came about as they were doing research for McCullough's book The Greater Journey. That research uncovered never-before-known journals of Washburne's that had been untouched in the Library of Congress. While McCullough quotes excerpts from those journals, it was great to read a much larger portion of them in Hill's book, ...more
I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway. I don't enter every giveaway for the sake of getting free books. I enter only those that I truly want to win. So, in keeping with a promise to myself and the spirit of the giveaways, I will always write something about my fortune wins.

Being a history lover, I thought I would enjoy this but I found it dull reading. While I admire his service to our country during this time, I found the diary entries rather dull and the book did not pull me along and
How many stars? A personal rating, based on whether I "liked" it would be 3 stars. However, the value of the book increases when it's value for historical purposes is considered. Larger public libraries and academic libraries should consider acquiring this little gem. Illinois high school libraries interested in native sons may find it of interest as will lay readers who enjoy primary source writing in the form of diary or letters.
Also, a little background knowledge of Paris and it's politics m
Michael Hill 's "Elihu Washburne : The Diary and Letters of America's Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris" is a well edited compendium of Elihu Washburne's letters, diary, and other sources mixed with the editor's judicious providing of context. The book covers Washburne's tenure just before and during the Franco-Prussian War and ensuing siege of Paris.

I found the book well written, easy to read and quite informative. Washburne had access to all the major participants on th
This is a fascinating biography based on historical documentation of a figure basically unknown in American schools. A rarity in any era is an honest politician with mid west hard work values and dedication to the office and people it serves.
Elihu's diary entries draw you into the conflict, on scene, on the ground, and in his mind for an enjoyable read. There is a tension in the atmosphere among the French people that hints at the attitude they convey for the next 100 years.
Kelli Lynn Dwyer

Once I read the short paragraph telling what this book was about, I knew I had to read it. I'm so excited to have won the giveaway and as soon as I receive the book in the mail and review it, I'll be sure to write a proper review. Thanks!
Nancy Bekofske
Several years ago I read The Greater Journey by David McCullough, an author well known and whose books are well reviewed. It was a very enjoyable and enlightening book, and I especially was interested in the American writers, painters, physicians and thinkers who spent time in Paris.

Then I got to the third part of the book. I was totally ignorant of the Siege of Paris when the Prussian Army led by Bismarck surrounded the city for 131 days, nor had I known of the collapse of Napoleon III, the ri
The length of time it took me to read this book, which I got through FirstReads, should not be taken as a reflection on the book itself.

Hill has done a good job not only with the editing, but with filling in information that casual readers might need about Paris, France, and the relevant European situation at the time. In other words, one definitely does not have to be an academic to enjoy or learn from this book. The reasonable length contributes to that benefit.

Despite my own knowledge of nine
Title: Elihu Washburne; The Diary and Letters of America's Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris

Author: Elihu Washburne was writer, while Michael Hill and and David McCullough were possibly editors?

First Copyright Date: Letters and diary entries were from 1870-1871, while the story was put together and published in 2012

Type of Book: France, War, history, Commune, Diplomacy, Franco-Prussian relations, Paris, Siege, 1870-1871

General Subject Matter: France, Paris 1870-1871

I got this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

I knew a little bit about Washburne due to my American Civil War investigations. Then a reading of David McCullough's 'The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris', my interest was further piqued, so I was quite excited to give this book a go.

At the time of the Civil War Washburne was an influential politician from Illinois, who was a strong supporter of Lincoln and was responsible for getting Grant a brigadier general's commission in the early days of the wa
Ashlea (
Despite a very scanty knowledge of French history, I thoroughly enjoyed this book on a noteworthy American in Paris during a difficult time. This is a good mix of exposition and excerpts from Washburne's letters and diary.

Mr. Washburne, a contemporary of Lincoln and Grant, was appointed American Minister in France. Just after he arrived in Paris, the French decided for not particularly good reasons to declare war on Prussia, who shortly thereafter besieged Paris because they were the military p
James Sorensen
Disclaimer: I won this book as part of the Goodreads first-read program.

Author Michael Hill has done extensive research into the life of Elihu Washburne in preparation for writing this biography. Hill has chosen to focus on Washburne's life during his tenure as American Minister to France. Hill takes a close look at Washburne as he stays in Paris during both the Franco-Prussian War and the ensuing siege of Paris and then the following insurrection of the Communards(Reds)and the Reign of Terror(O
Jun 26, 2013 Vicki rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nerds like me
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lucy Paquette
This absolutely fascinating account of America's minister to France, in Paris during the Siege and Commune, is long overdue. Elihu Washburne exerted himself to keep a detailed journal of all he did and saw during this terrible episode in history. One of the only diplomats to remain in the city, he suffered from the cold and dwindling food supply while helping over 3,000 Americans, Germans and other civilians to escape. The safety of his home and his family were threatened, but he tried to save t ...more
Deale Hutton
Elihu Washburne was US ambassador to France during the Franco-Prussian War, the siege of Paris and the second commune. The late 1871+ He was not your typical ambassador. Thought uncultured by some on Washington, he managed to evacuate, feed and house many innocent German families during the War. He rescued many Americans. In a nutshell, he was great.
I read about him in The Greater Journey by McCullough and had to read the diary. It is wonderful . It does drag in parts as did the 132 day siege o
Victoria Grusing
This introduced me to history I had never learned. I read this after reading David McCullough's "The Greater Journey". Quite an amazing account of a terrible period in Parisian history.
Kelsea Dawn Hume
An American slant on the history of the 1871 Paris Commune, this book followed the dairy and letters of the American Minister to France. Hill's portrayal of Washburne is one of loving admiration, and while this made the book easy to read, I suspect there is quite a bit of hero worship in the work. Hill's portrayal of the Paris Commune was also very conservative, which, combined with a strong dose of American exceptionalism, put me off this well-organized history.


- You want know what con
I was nervous about the format but it works out rather well. It was fascinating reading about a man this amazing. This area of history has not really been in my interest, but this book has shown me how fascinating it is. I will definitely recommend this book to my friends and family that like to read history.

*** I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads ***
Bob Mitchell
An interesting account of an unjustly overlooked figure from the middle of the 19th century and his heroism as a diplomat in revolution-wracked France. The decision to base this account almost entirely on Washburne's diary entries was unfortunate and reminds readers (and writers) why narrative is so important. Still, a worthwhile contribution to the literature.
A man I had never heard of comes vividly to life through his longlost diary entries and the graceful narrative by Mike Hill. Washburne was a kind, compassionate and responsible man who could not turn his back on the suffering caused by the siege of Paris. A fascinating look at a time and place I knew little about.
I like how this book is set up, the diary and letter format with narrative flows well. I did find it well written, but it is not a subject that interested me. I think history buffs will really enjoy this. I am glad that by winning this on goodreads I read something I normally wouldn't have picked up.
It's a good book. A little dry but very interesting. I think we all should be very proud of his service.
Very interesting account of a period of French history I was totally unaware of.
Raymond Happy
The writing on the Commune is indispensable
Elihu Washburne is an American hero.
Joyce Carbonell
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