[Haine] invites the reader of The World of the Paris Café to step up to the serving counter of a nineteenth-century Parisian café to eavesdrop on the conversations and to observe the dynamics of this unique working-class establishment... These cafés were far more than places to eat and drink to the great majority of working-class Parisians, who also frequented such establishments seeking shelter from authorities, exchanging and developing and sometimes enacting their ideas.
As its subtitle indicates, this book is as much about the emergence and flowering of working-class sociability as it is about the cafés that fostered this sociability, as much about milieu as it is about lieu... This study is both wide-ranging and well researched... At once serious and lively.
Haine takes the café as an institution with its own history... But Haine's greatest contribution is the impressive archival work... The World of the Paris Café is a rich study to which dix-neuviémistes in their turn can raise a glass.
Haine investigates a topic which is crucial in its own right and which ties together many of the central issues which historians have been debating in recent years. He uses neighborhood cafés as a privileged position from which to observe not only drinking and masculine play but also class formation, political mobilization, prostitution, job hunting, and many other activities that were important components of popular culture. He makes noteworthy contributions to many of the debates because he can bring so much new information and so many new perspectives to bear.