Becoming Americans in Paris by Brooke Blower – review

Becoming Americans in Paris : transatlantic politics and culture between the World WarsBecoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars by Brooke Blower
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: my copy
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780199737819, 266 pages
Find this book at your local library


According to the author:

Analyzing both American and European perspectives, this book does askwhy Americans went to Paris — the primary question driving much of the literature on the subject — but what happened once they became conspicuous participants in the capital’s public life. What impact did they have on the city? How did Parisians and other Europeans interpret their presence? And what difference did this overseas movement make to Americans’ sense of themselves and their culture. 

First of all, I won this book from a giveaway held by Wonders and Marvels. Its taken my longer than I’m proud to admit to finally reading this book.

This book is definitely not a bit of light reading, in case you are wondering. Although it is densely packed with information, Brooke Blower’s writing style makes it easy and entertaining to get through. As to her theme of the book, it really felt like a long catalog of reason of why Americans are hated in Europe. It seems like many of the reasons still resonate today. In generalized words, Americans are pompous, loud, demanding and unsympathetic to the way of life in the country they are visiting. It seems that the French absolutely hated the American presence in Paris.

This book did open my eyes to many aspects of history that took place between the wars that I never learned about in history classes. It’s a very niche era to discuss, particularly with the American/French dynamic. I never knew about the European Sacco and Vanzetti riots, particularly the French reaction to the American execution of two Italian immigrants. I also didn’t realize how much the French resented American expats trekking onto their land, and turning quaint locations in tourist attractions. This book covers a lot of ground in regards to politics, culture, racism, and celebrity expats. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a keen interest in history, French history, American history or the interwar years.

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