Books: Geniuses & Mules with Bells

PARIS WAS OUR MISTRESS (254 pp.)—Samuel Putnam—Viking ($3).

"The people of Paris," wrote François Rabelais in the 16th Century, "are so foolish by nature that a juggler, a pardon-peddler, a mule with bells . . . will gather a bigger crowd than a good evangelic preacher ever could." Four centuries later, between 1920 and 1935, Parisian jugglers and pardon-peddlers were gathering one of the biggest, strangest crowds in French history—a throng of U.S. expatriates, fleeing the New World of Harding, Coolidge, and their own disconsolate selves. Says Samuel Putnam, who went to Paris in...

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