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French War Brides in America: An Oral History [NOOK Book]

Overview

In 1944 and 1945, millions of American soldiers took part in the Liberation of France. It was impossible for these GIs, who brought with them freedom, health, and wealth, to avoid fraternizing with French women. Some 6,500 Franco-American marriages would later take place. Many of these women would cross the Atlantic to join their husbands, following the example of their compatriots who had wed doughboys after World War I. From the very beginning, such flirtations provoked the irritation of conservatives in France...

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French War Brides in America: An Oral History

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Overview

In 1944 and 1945, millions of American soldiers took part in the Liberation of France. It was impossible for these GIs, who brought with them freedom, health, and wealth, to avoid fraternizing with French women. Some 6,500 Franco-American marriages would later take place. Many of these women would cross the Atlantic to join their husbands, following the example of their compatriots who had wed doughboys after World War I. From the very beginning, such flirtations provoked the irritation of conservatives in France and of puritanical Americans. The former feared the debauchery of their young women, the latter the subversion of their boys. As for marriages, many difficulties first had to be overcome. Fearing an expensive inflow of war brides, who would benefit from free transportation to the U.S. and later acquire American citizenship, the U.S. Army and Washington put up obstacles. Many Americans also had a very sceptical attitude towards the integration of these brides, since French women--often dubbed "Oh-la-la girls"--had the reputation of being frivolous, difficult to handle coquettes.

This book, a collection of oral histories, tells the story of mademoiselle and the GI by following the destinies of 15 French war brides--three from World War I and 12 from World War II. All of these women encountered cultural shock as they discovered an opulent and open society, but one which was also materialistic and racially segregated. But the women got on with it and survived. Although about half of the marriages ended in divorce, only about 150 of the women returned to France. Most of them, in their own way, lived the American Dream. Today these women are both French and American. They reflect the image of a successful betrothal between two cultures.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics

Kaiser (Univ. of Paris-Sud) provides a welcome new perspective on the Franco-American relationship in this collection of oral histories of French war brides....Kaiser's introduction and conclusion contextualize and analyze these lives, emphasizing questions of biculturalism and cultural misunderstandings rather than issues of gender. As they look back on their long lives, these women share memories of how they assimilated to US culture while never losing their sense of being French. Recommended.

Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573569644
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 988 KB

Meet the Author

HILARY KAISER is American by birth and the daughter of a GI who fought in Japan during World War II. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Paris-Sud and has done many oral histories of Americans living in France. The second edition of her book Veteran Recall: Americans in France Remember the War was published in June 2004.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments     ix
Note on Interviewing, Language, Transcription, and Editing for the Original French Version     xi
Prologue     xv
Introduction     xix
Accounts of World War I War Brides     1
"St. Joseph was with us..."     3
An Enterprising Young Woman     9
Paulette Returns to France     17
Accounts of World War II War Brides     25
On the Farm     27
Jacqueline, the Resistant     33
"Mes chers parents..."     47
New York Sandals     57
Morry and I     67
Father Knows Best     75
"Hi, Red!"     85
From Antoinette to Tony     97
"Ma Petite France"     113
From New Caledonia to Los Angeles     121
Vive la Reine!     127
"I Knitted Socks"     139
Conclusion     147
Notes     159
Select Bibliography     171
Index     173
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