Acclaimed journalist Charles Glass looks to the American expatriate experience of Nazi-occupied Paris to reveal a fascinating forgotten history of the greatest generation.
In Americans in Paris, tales of adventure, intrigue, passion, deceit, and survival unfold season by season as renowned journalist Charles Glass tells the story of a remarkable cast of expatriates and their struggles in Nazi Paris.
Before the Second World War began, approximately 30,000 Americans lived in Paris, and when war broke out in 1939, almost 5,000 remained. As citizens of a neutral nation, the Americans in Paris believed they had little to fear. They were wrong. Glass’ discovery of letters, diaries, war documents, and police files reveals as never before how Americans were trapped in a web of intrigue, collaboration, and courage.
Artists, writers, scientists, playboys, musicians, cultural mandarins, and ordinary businessmen—all were swept up in extraordinary circumstances and tested as few Americans before or since. These stories come together to create a unique portrait of an eccentric, original, and diverse American community.
Charles Glass has written an exciting, fast-paced, and elegant account of the moral contradictions faced by Americans in Paris during France’s dangerous occupation years. For four hard years, from the summer of 1940 until U.S. troops liberated Paris in August 1944, Americans were intimately caught up in the city’s fate. Americans in Paris is an unforgettable tale of treachery by some, cowardice by others, and unparalleled bravery by a few.
“A vivid gallery of expatriates animates this chronicle of Paris during the Second World War. Drawing heavily on primary source material, Glass narrates the Nazi Occupation year by year, unfolding stories of resilience and despair.... By focusing with exhaustive thoroughness on a relatively small group, Glass is able to capture the complex stories of ‘as diverse a collection of opposed beliefs and backgrounds as in any American metropolis.” (The New Yorker)
“Once upon a time, historians told stories about the brave and the cowardly, about heroes, villains, and the many whose lives lay somewhere in between. That’s what Glass…has done in this extraordinary narrative…This is outstanding popular history, well researched and told and never oversimplified. It’s difficult to conceive of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this exceptional book.” (Library Journal)
“A fascinating treat.” (Telegraph, London)
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Absolutely must read.
- Ken Hamblin Sr
An Interesting, if Superficial History
I was disappointed by how thin the narrative was. Glass follows some very interesting characters - and I was glad to listen to the book - but he rarely took up the moral and political questions raised by the characters' choices and behaviors. His account of Sumner Jackson, the medical director of the American Hospital in Paris, is eye-opening because of Jackson's remarkable heroism. His account of Charles Bedaux, on the other hand, seems almost naive in his support of him. Glass could have taken the time to grapple with the ways that Bedaux dealt with his relationship with the Nazis and the collaborationists in Paris. Since he didn't, we're left with an uncomfortably thin narrative.Hillgartner has a wonderful French accent, and his voice his compelling ... I think the text itself, and its lack of complexity, would've been a challenge for any narrator.
- H. Segal "Cornell Faculty"