Wednesday, June 9, 2021

France, the US and Germany: Old Friends, New Friends

This is a timely post, as President Biden is in Europe, repairing our ties with our major allies. 

Several of the books I read recently are about history and war (the two sometimes seem to be almost synonymous). They include Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, by Sarah Vowell, The Kaiser’s Web, by Steve Berry, and The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.
The first of these books involves France’s role in America’s war of independence. The second book is about Germany in World War Two and thereafter. The third one is about France and Germany during World Wars One and Two. 
I grew up in France, and I remain an inveterate Francophile. France has played a huge role in the history of the Western world during the past two and a half centuries. However, Anglo-Saxon culture - beginning with its language - still dominates the world, and Germany is viewed as the primary European country, certainly in economic terms. For France, there also remains the stain of its prompt defeat by Germany at the outset of World War Two. There are those who enjoy reminding us of this, poking fun at the supposedly cowardly French. An example is Bill Bryson, who wrote in his otherwise delightful travel book, “Let’s face it, the French Army couldn’t beat a girls hockey team.” And of course, we are often reminded how indebted France is to the US for liberating it from the Nazis in 1944-45.  Read more...