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Tag: History

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Should Marshal Pétain Be Honored?

As the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice is being celebrated, public opinion is divided on the inclusion of Pétain’s name in the list of eight French marshals honored by the Elysée Palace on Saturday 10 November. Pétain is a major historical figure, having been both the hero of the Battle of Verdun in World War I, and the collaborationist,...

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The Hello Girls, the Voice of the U.S. Army in France

The first women recruited by the U.S. Army were equipped with helmets and gasmasks just like their male counterparts, but they were armed with telephones. Some 223 French-speaking American women served as switchboard operators during World War I. Nicknamed the “Hello Girls,” they acted as a link between the front line and the rear guard and between French and American...

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World War I in France Seen Through the Lens of Lewis Hine

A hundred years ago, France was caught in the final year of World War I. American photographer Lewis Hine traveled across the country in 1918 for the American Red Cross, documenting their work with refugees, orphans, and wounded soldiers. Lost for decades, his poignant work has recently been made public by the Library of Congress. Lewis Hine has been acknowledged...

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1918-1926: The Never-Ending War

La Paix Impossible is the sixth instalment of the Apocalypse history documentary series on 20th-century military conflicts. Produced using nothing but restored color footage, the two 45-minute episodes depict the interwar period (1918-1926) and the rise of nationalism. A film by Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle, narrated by Mathieu Kassovitz. Interview. France-Amérique: Why have you called the 1918-1926 period "la...

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Passing the Torch: America One Hundred Years Ago

November 11, 1918, marked the end of World War I and the beginning of American omnipotence — and this era continues today. What exactly do we commemorate on November 11 in France and America? There were no real winners in the Great War. The French and their allies from Britain, the United States, Belgium, Serbia and elsewhere were decimated by...

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Versailles’ American Splendor

The Château de Versailles is a symbol of French excellence in the arts, emblematic of absolute power and the height of the monarchy’s reign. But it actually owes part of its current grandeur and beauty to a number of Americans who financed its restoration throughout the 20th century. "What I must do is not what other people do, but what...[Subscriber]

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1900, the Birth of the Parisian Myth

The City of Light was at its peak in 1900. The Alexandre III Bridge, Orsay Station, the World’s Fair, and the first subway line were all inaugurated. An exhibition on Paris from the Belle Epoque era, initially presented at the Petit Palais, is now at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville from October 12 through January 6, 2019. It will...

Sergeant York Gets His Very Own Comic Book

An avenue in Manhattan bears his name, but who really remembers Sergeant York, the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War I? He proved his mettle in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, whose 100th anniversary is currently being commemorated, and is now the subject of a comic book published by Association of the United States Army. On October 8, 1918,...

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“The Sisters Brothers”: The American Frontier Through the Eyes of a Frenchman

In his very first western, French director Jacques Audiard combines a Canadian screenplay, American actors, and scenes filmed in Spain and Romania. The result, released in the U.S. on September 21, loses its way in parts but offers a beautiful take on America during the Gold Rush. This project was long the stuff of fantasy for movie buffs. But those...

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“The Order of the Day,” a Goncourt Laureate Like no Other

For the first time since it was founded, the Prix Goncourt has been awarded to a historical account instead of a novel. The winner is none other than The Order of the Day by Eric Vuillard, a staggering work of some 130 pages which was recently translated and published in the U.S. After the initial surprise, readers will be firmly...

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Sennelier, a Merchant of Colors in Paris

A stone’s throw from the Louvre and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Sennelier store has catered to the likes of Cézanne, Soutine, Picasso, Karl Lagerfeld, and Sempé. Since 1887, artists have come here to buy their colors that were once hand-milled to order in the workshop behind the store. Among its achievements, Sennelier has invented Helios Red, Cinnabar Green, and...

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Heritage: We Must Save Our Old Stones!

For the European Heritage Days on September 15 and 16, 2018, France will organize a lottery whose proceeds will help restore endangered historical sites throughout France. Thousands of monuments in rural areas or small communities across France are falling into disrepair, including bridges and garrets, abbeys and fountains, theatres and synagogues, factories, ramparts, orangeries, greenhouses, windmills, viaducts, châteaux, and hundreds of...

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France and the United States From Liberation to Exasperation

How did Americans go, in the mind of the French, from gum-chewing liberators to Coke-swilling invaders? A U.S. historian and a French cheesemonger examined this transformation in a book published this summer. During the Liberation, American GIs used calvados brandy to fuel their Zippo lighters. In 1948, the French communist party called for a boycott of the American soda giant, accusing...

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How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Marcel Proust

At the turn of the 19th century, three celebrities of their day reigned supreme in the uppermost crust of Paris. These three women, Madame de Chevigné, Straus, and Greffuhle, are important to us today not because of their status but because they inspired the pen and passion of Marcel Proust. The famed author conflated their characteristics to create the fictional...

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The Birth of U.S. Naval Aviation on the Ile d’Oléron

On August 20, 2018, Ile d’Oléron (in the Charente-Maritime département) will be paying homage to the 383 U.S. soldiers who lived on the island during World War I. Posted more than 400 miles from the trenches, these pilots, sailors, and mechanics from the U.S. Navy were tasked with defending the French coast against German submarines. Located on the Atlantic Ocean...

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Flying Free: U.S. Pilots Saved by the Normans

American fighter planes and bombers supported the Allies in the Battle of Normandy from June through August 1944. During the war, some 2,700 pilots were forced to execute an emergency landing. Local inhabitants came to their rescue, and the soldiers were instructed to blend in with the French until the country was liberated. One such aviator, Major McLeod, went on...

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Yann Castelnot, Remembering Native Veterans

Frenchman Yann Castelnot, a Quebec-based amateur historian, has identified thousands of indigenous soldiers who fought for Canada and the United States since the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century. In recognition of his archiving work he received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Province of Quebec and was congratulated by the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs. Exactly...

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Two Bikers Ride Across America for the Armistice

Two French bikers have decided to cross the United States on a 1918 Harley-Davidson that first arrived in France with American troops in World War I. The two Frenchmen thunder down Interstate 65 on the way to Chicago. Pierre Lauvergeat leads the way at 55mph on a hundred-year-old Harley Davidson. His traveling companion Christophe de Goulaine follows closely behind in...

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What Do We Celebrate on Bastille Day?

The French do not celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day; they may not even know what it means. Americans, on the other hand, are familiar with what they call Bastille Day, an expression that, strangely, does not exist in French. This enthusiasm for the Storming of the Bastille is not shared by all French people — the Revolution,...[Subscriber]

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld: “We Will Keep Fighting as Long as We Are Alive”

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have spent their lives hunting former Nazis, war criminals, and high-ranking officials of the Vichy regime. France-Amérique met with these “militants of memory,” 82 and 79 respectively, while they were promoting the English publication of their autobiography, Hunting the Truth. “He was over 6 ft. 5 and had a revolver in his pocket. I was also...

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1918, the Beginnings of Jazz in France

During World War I, Afro-American musicians posted to France popularized a new form of music. This “syncopated ragtime” was the beginning of jazz. An exhibition organized at the New Orleans Jazz Museum through November 15, 2018, takes a look back over this period. “Here, on February 12, 1918, the first jazz concert was played on European soil.” This declaration is...