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Eugene Bullard, Black Expatriate in Jazz-Age Paris


Although he was the first African American fighter pilot, Eugene J. Bullard is still a relative stranger in his homeland. An accomplished professional boxer, musician, club manager, and impresario of Parisian nightlife between the world wars, Bullard found in Europe a degree of respect and freedom unknown to blacks in America. There, for twenty-five years, he helped define the expatriate experience for countless other African American artists, writers, performers, and athletes.

This is the first biography of Bullard in thirty years and the most complete ever. It follows Bullard's lifelong search for respect from his poor boyhood in Jim-Crow Georgia to his attainment of notoriety in Jazz-Age Paris and his exploits fighting for his adopted country, for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Drawing on a vast amount of archival material in the United States, Great Britain, and France, Craig Lloyd unfolds the vibrant story of an African American who sought freedom overseas. Lloyd provides a new look at the black expatriate community in Paris, taking readers into the cabarets where Bullard rubbed elbows with Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, and even the Prince of Wales. Lloyd also uses Bullard's life as a lens through which to view the racism that continued to dog him even in Europe in his encounters with traveling Americans.

When Hitler conquered France, Bullard was wounded in action and then escaped to America. There, his European successes counted for little: he spent his last years in obscurity and hardship but continued to work for racial justice. Eugene Bullard, Black Expatriate in Jazz-Age Paris offers a fascinating look at an extraordinary man who lived on his own terms and adds a new facet to our understanding of the black diaspora.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] unbelievable, Zelig-like tale . . . What makes it magical is the shear force of hope . . . in the face of hopelessness."—Athens Banner Herald

"There are plenty of reasons to read [Eugene Bullard]: not merely the rich details of Bullard's life, not merely the careful and thorough way in which Lloyd has researched and told his story, but also the things that story tells us about race, racism, and human courage."—Washington Post Book World

"Thoroughly researched and well-written . . . Lloyd does an excellent job of profiling the life of an extraordinary man who most Americans have probably never heard of. . . . Using Bullard's life as a prism, Lloyd draws a detailed portrait of the conflicting views of race held by both Americans and the French near the turn of the twentieth century—and the sometimes heated consequences of those conflicts."—Black Issues Book Review

"The first biography of Bullard to look at his unique contributions within a larger historical context."—Publishers Weekly

"Explores the extraordinary life of . . . the first black wartime aviator and celebrated prize fighter, musician, and decorated member of the French foreign legion and the French airforce in World War I. . . . The definitive biography of a remarkable man in search of freedom."—Library Journal

"A must read for anyone interested in great American heroes. The book is well written . . . [and] has exceptional photographs."—African Atlantic Genealogical Society Update

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820328188
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 815,885

Meet the Author

Craig Lloyd is a professor emeritus of history and former Director of Archives at Columbus State University.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Must Read For Those Of Color

    Very Needed researched addition to Eugene Bullards own book. Anyone interested in Aviation should definitely read.
    Information, footnotes, bibilography are excellent.
    Sad but inspiring story of a true Hero. A story that needs to be told even though it is another painful chapter of the governments policy towards people of color.

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