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Remembering the Americans Who Gave Their Lives for France

A U.S. government agency founded in 1923 with offices outside of Paris continues to preserve the memory of the 67,629 American soldiers killed during the two World Wars and buried in France. The 150 students from the elementary school in Charly-sur-Marne have just left, and the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery falls silent once again. This military cemetery covers 42 acres of...

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The Harlem Hellfighters: African-American Fighters in French Uniforms

Some 4,500 Black American soldiers, victims of segregation laws in force in the U.S. army, fought in French uniforms during World War I. Nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, these soldiers displayed exceptional valor in combat. Here is their incredible yet little-known story. "Up the wide avenue they swung. Their smiles outshone the golden sunlight […]. New York turned out to tender...[Subscriber]

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Urban Revolts, from Detroit to Clichy-sous-Bois

Caroline Rolland-Diamond is a historian at Nanterre University near Paris, and is specialized in American social movements. She is currently drawing parallels between the Detroit riots of 1967 (whose 50th anniversary will be commemorated this summer) and civil disturbance in the French suburbs. On July 24, she will be taking part in a conference held at Wayne State University in...

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Jazz, a Transatlantic Love Story

The arrival of the ocean liner Queen Mary II in New York harbor, on Saturday, July 1, marks the return voyage of the first American soldiers who fought in France during Wold War I, but also the birth of a new form of music, jazz. A number of African-American musicians took advantage of the French infatuation with this new American art form and...

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300 Years of French Culture in Alabama

Sixteen years before they founded New Orleans, the French established a settlement on the Gulf of Mexico, a town now called Mobile, in Alabama. To celebrate the bi-centennial of its annexation by the United States, Alabama is organizing a symposium on its French heritage this weekend. We asked Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, to...

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The invention of Santa Claus: From Thomas Nast to Coca-Cola

Père Janvier, Father Christmas, Christkindl, Santa Claus…Whatever name you happen to give him, Father Christmas and his origins still spur controversy. Coca-Cola may have claimed ownership of the symbol and widely circulated the image of a bearded and smiling Father Christmas, yet the brand didn’t actually invent anything. Much earlier, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) fashioned Father Christmas’s image...[Subscriber]

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Honor, Country and the Pursuit of Medals

What do Parisian Aurélie Dupont and American serviceman Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Oregon have in common? Answer: Dupont, until recently the prima ballerina of the Paris Opera, and Skarlatos, who helped subdue a terrorist on the Amsterdam-Paris train, were both awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 2015. Dupont was among the 544 citizens who received France’s iconic national decoration in the...[Subscriber]

Luc Sante’s Other Paris

Luc Sante is a Belgian-born American author who contributes to the New York Review of Books. He shot to fame in 1991 with Low Life, a well-informed exploration of the New York underground in the 19th century. Twenty-five years on, this subculture specialist has delved into the dark side of Paris in his latest book The Other Paris (Farrar, Straus...

The Quasi-War Between France and the United States

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” Polonius admonishes his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – a warning that is consistently ignored by governments. Yet debts and loans can play havoc with bi-lateral relations – and they did just that in two epic disputes separated by 100 years or so between the United States and France. On both occasions France...

American volunteers in World War I

Even though America did not officially enter the war until April 1917, from the very beginning many young men decided to contribute to the Allied war effort against the Central powers. WWI marks a turning point in modern U.S. history, the moment it emerged as a global power which would ultimately change the meaning and the direction of the 20th...