News of Paris: American Journalists in the City of Light Between the Wars

Overview

The great American exodus to Paris after World War I included not only writers and artists but journalists. They came by the score, the raw and the accomplished, and in their baggage most carried the dream of eventually becoming poets, short-story writers, or novelists. With the war, American news activity had shifted from London to Paris. The city became the center of American journalism in Europe, with jobs available on English-language newspapers and magazines, with news services and the foreign bureaus of ...
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Overview

The great American exodus to Paris after World War I included not only writers and artists but journalists. They came by the score, the raw and the accomplished, and in their baggage most carried the dream of eventually becoming poets, short-story writers, or novelists. With the war, American news activity had shifted from London to Paris. The city became the center of American journalism in Europe, with jobs available on English-language newspapers and magazines, with news services and the foreign bureaus of American publications, and as freelancers of various sorts, writing for a Europe-hungry audience back home.

News of Paris recaptures the colorful, often zany world of Paris-American journalists during these glory days, concentrating on the lives of such figures as Ernest Hemingway, James Thurber, Henry Miller, Elliot Paul, William L. Shirer, Dorothy Thompson, Janet Flanner, and Eric Sevareid-as well as the less famous and more bibulous hacks-and on the life of the major newspapers, notably the Paris Herald and the Tribune. With 8 pages of black-and-white photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Marc Weingarten
Weber's book is an old war chest full of stories about this intoxicating period in journalism; the jaunty one- and two-page entries are just the right length, given the fleeting joie de vivre of the era.
— The New York Times
Washington Post
A useful reminder that the American presence in Paris...was larger and more varied than is usually understood.
Buffalo News
It was a memorable period, and this is a memorable book.
Booklist
Readers interested in American journalism as practiced abroad in the 1920s and 1930s will enjoy this engaging book.
Publishers Weekly
Weber offers an entertaining overview of expatriate journalists in Paris during the glory years, chronicling everything from deadline desperation to clandestine affairs. The New York Herald's Paris edition began in 1887, and as Paris became more American, the Paris Herald followed suit. Managing editor Eric Hawkins felt his paper was "an incubator for the most colorful, competent and sometimes crazy newspapermen that ever populated a city room." More "newsroom high jinks" took place at the competing Paris Tribune, and the two papers merged in 1934. Weber's scholarly skills (he's professor emeritus of American studies at Notre Dame) recapture that long-lost generation of writers, not just the usual suspects (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Janet Flanner, Henry Miller) but a parade of foreign correspondents, culture columnists, magazine freelancers (for The Boulevardier and Paris Comet), poets and novelists. As women reporters emerged, Mary Knight became a contemporary Nellie Bly for United Press after disguising herself as a man to witness a guillotining. Faces frozen in the book's eight pages of b&w photos become animated in this superb history, thanks to Weber's fluid, detailed writing and flair for breezy anecdotes. (Apr. 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is a breezy, quickly paced narrative that captures the vitality and verve of Paris in the interwar years. Although Weber (American studies, emeritus, Univ. of Notre Dame; The Literature of Fact) takes his title from an unfinished story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, he eschews the usual focus on literary giants like Hemingway and his circle for the little-known lives and early careers of columnists, journalists, and reporters drawn to the city that had replaced London as the "center of American journalism in Europe." Many of these scribes went on to achieve fame-Eric Sevareid, William L. Shirer, Henry Miller, Janet Flanner, and Walter Kerr. Based largely on the personal recollections of such figures, Weber also re-creates a lost period in international journalism, a time when perhaps 60,000 American journalists, amateur and professional alike, lived in France and contributed to a variety of publications, including such important organs as the European editions of the New York Herald and the Chicago Tribune. Readers will also learn how foreign correspondents capitalized on the expanding interests of homebound readers by making the jump from simple news gathering to the publication of personal reflection pieces like John Gunther's Inside Europe. A valuable addition to literary and journalistic history collections.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From literary scholar Weber (Hired Pens, 1997, etc.), a vivid account of colorful characters and mostly ephemeral publications enlivening expatriate life from the end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second. Notwithstanding his academic credentials (American Studies Emeritus/Univ. of Notre Dame), the author doesn't provide any unifying themes or discern any lasting cultural contributions made by the Americans who financed their agreeable sojourns overseas by writing, editing and proofreading for the not-terribly-distinguished newspapers and magazines published for their fellow expatriates. Instead, his enjoyable narrative offers lots of good stories about late nights, hard drinking and minimal amounts of work at the Paris Herald, the Paris Tribune and the Paris Times, as well as such magazines as The Boulevardier and the Paris Comet. A separate chapter chronicles the more substantive accomplishments of foreign correspondents for the Paris bureaus of American newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald-Tribune as the threat of war darkened Europe. Female correspondents like the New Yorker's Janet Flanner and the intrepid Martha Gellhorn and Dorothy Thompson (both of whom ranged far afield from Paris) also get their due, and another chapter examines the fiction produced when journalists got off their day jobs-Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer being the only enduring work in this category. In contrast, the bestselling memoirs of their European stints by Vincent Sheean, John Gunther and William L. Shirer remain widely read today. Other still-well-known names dotting the text include Ernest Hemingway, Eric Sevareid, Walter Kerr and Edward R. Murrow, who workedfrom London but recruited many Paris-based journalists for CBS Radio's fledgling overseas coverage. But the more typical protagonists here are such semi-famous sorts as Waverly Root, Elliot Paul and Harold Stearns, most of whom bounced from paper to magazine to paper while enjoying la vie de boheme and-most notably in Stearns's case-failing to live up to early predictions of their shining literary promise. Agreeable, old-fashioned cultural history: heavy on anecdotes, light on analysis.
Choice
Most accessible to readers who understand the cultural and political environment of Europe between the wars.... Recommended.
Columbia Journalism Review
This is a good-old-days kind of book....Rich entertainment.
Santa Barbara News-Press
Hemingway is here, but the colorful lesser lights make for even better copy.
San Juan Star
This is a richly anecdotal history of the American newspaper people-Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller among them-who flocked to Paris during the 15 years after the armistice that ended World War I.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
One of those agreeable books that makes you wish you could have lived then and done that....writing is solid.
Janesville Gazette
The book's writing is solid.
American Historical Review
This book makes an important and lively contribution to the scholarship on the period.
CHOICE
Most accessible to readers who understand the cultural and political environment of Europe between the wars.... Recommended.
Newshour With Jim Lehrer - Terence Smith
What fun! News of Paris evokes the romantic in those of us who wish we had been there. Listen carefully, and you can hear Gershwin's 'American in Paris' in the background.
Tony Hillerman
Ronald Weber gives us an odd and intriguing look at a rarely explored corner of cultural history. Aging journalists will love it, and so will just about everyone else.
Richard Schickel
Weber has found and entertainingly explored one of the Lost Generation's lost corners in this engagingly readable history.
E son du grisli - Morley Safer
What a treat this book is.
Roger K. Miller
News of Paris is one of those agreeable books that make you wish you could have lived then and done that.
Booklist - Vanessa Bush
Readers interested in American journalism as practiced abroad in the 1920s and 1930s will enjoy this engaging book.
Review Of Higher Education - Jonathan Yardley
A useful reminder that the American presence in Paris...was larger and more varied than is usually understood.
The Buffalo News - Norman Rowlinson
It was a memorable period, and this is a memorable book.
International Herald Tribune - Marc Weingarten
An old war chest full of stories about this intoxicating period in journalism.
The Weekly Standard - Robert Whitcomb
It was...a community with a delightfully high tolerance for eccentric behavior, and, er, ingenuity, which Weber...details with verve.
Choice
Most accessible to readers who understand the cultural and political environment of Europe between the wars.... Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566636766
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 4/25/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald Weber is professor emeritus of American studies at the University of Notre Dame. He has also written America in Change, The Literature of Fact, and Hired Pens. He lives in Valparaiso, Indiana.

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Table of Contents


Prologue: Jake's Work     3
The Dear Paris Herald     17
World's Zaniest Newspaper     74
News in the Afternoon     136
Short Cut to Paradise     151
A Smart Little Magazine     194
Countless Reams of Stuff     217
Stories of Paris     253
Epilogue: Curtain Fall     280
Acknowledgments     291
Notes and Sources     295
Index     321
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