Americans in Paris
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 31 Mar 2012
Full Title: Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, the United States, though far less than neutral, remained non-belligerent, thus American citizens in France experienced the horrors of war, but some a relative sideline. These Americans were from all walks of life, whether doctors, librarians, politicians, musicians, industrialists, or retired military men. In Americans in Paris, author Charles Glass told the stories of some of these Americans, and how some of their lives intertwined with war, politics, and each other. The story of Charles Bedaux perhaps grabbed my attention the most; a businessman who had a grand vision of constructing a trans-Saharan pipeline to bring peanut oil into fat-starved Europe, he nevertheless was accused of being a traitor to the United States by working with the German occupation in France to get that project started. Sumner Jackson, a respectable surgeon to the public, disguised Allied fighters as patients in his hospital until they could escape into friendly territory. Characters of less historical consequence also dotted the narratives, providing their own little gems of stories. 83-year-old African-American Charles Anderson, veteran of both US Army and the French Army many decades ago, watched the Allied victory parade in Paris and turned away in subdued sadness as he noticed that the Americans still excluded African-Americans from taking part in the victory parade; "Paris had been liberated. America would take longer", the author wrote to conclude the book in reference to Anderson's disappointment. Off topic, but perhaps hints at the next challenge for the American society for the coming decades.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Malcolm Hillgartner did a good job reading the book, with clear pronunciation and good pace, and to my untrained ears it seemed like he had prepared well for the many French words in this book. His baritone voice was somehow fitting for the job.
I had enjoyed Americans in Paris. Though not at all a work of war history, it nevertheless provided new perspectives for me in the understanding of war time France.
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