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Remaking France

Remaking France: Americanization, Public Diplomacy, and the Marshall Plan

Brian Angus McKenzie
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Remaking France
    Book Description:

    Public diplomacy, neglected following the end of the Cold War, is once again a central tool of American foreign policy. This book, examining as it does the Marshall Plan as the form of public diplomacy of the United States in France after World War Two, offers a timely historical case study. Current debates about globalization and a possible revival of the Marshall Plan resemble the debates about Americanization that occurred in France over fifty years ago. Relations between France and the United States are often tense despite their shared history and cultural ties, reflecting the general fear and disgust and attraction of America and Americanization. The period covered in this book offers a good example: the French Government begrudgingly accepted American hegemony even though anti-Americanism was widespread among the French population, which American public diplomacy tried to overcome with various cultural and economic activities examined by the author. In many cases French society proved resistant to Americanization, and it is questionable whether public diplomacy actually accomplished what its advocates had promised. Nevertheless, by the 1950s the United States had established a strong cultural presence in France that included Hollywood,Reader's Digest, and American-style hotels.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-561-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    In 1951 Paris’s only baseball diamond was located in the Bois de Boulogne, the expansive park outside the city. According to William Koren, a United States Information Service (USIS) official, the field was in poor condition: there was no dugout and the backstop was a sieve.¹ Baseball facilities beyond Paris were scarce. Worse still, in the eyes of this official, only a handful of Frenchmen were familiar with the game and there was virtually no place for students to practice. At a joint staff meeting between the USIS and the information division of Mission France (the lead body of the...

  7. Chapter 1 France, the United States, and the Development of U.S. Public Diplomacy
    (pp. 18-65)

    Secretary of State George C. Marshall launched what would become the Marshall Plan at Harvard University on 5 June 1947. In a moving speech he called for a program to aid European reconstruction. A year later Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act, which created the European Recovery Program (ERP), and an administrative organization, the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA). The immediate goals outlined by Marshall were to provide relief—food and fuel—to Europeans and to aid in the reconstruction of their economies.

    Yet the Secretary of State’s call for reconstruction included an important cultural component. Years of war and hardship,...

  8. Chapter 2 “The True Face of the United States” American Exhibits in France, 1948–1952
    (pp. 66-110)

    The exhibits of Mission France were one of the most visible signs of the increased cultural presence of the United States in France. Focusing on American exhibits and American participation in French fairs, this chapter examines the efforts of the French Mission of the ECA and the USIS to promote the American Way of life in France. The participation of the United States in regional fairs and the traveling exhibits, which reached the heart ofLa France profonde, were unprecedented interventions by the U.S. in the French public sphere. American exhibits were prescriptive, normative, and informed by anti-Communist political imperatives....

  9. Chapter 3 The Marshall Plan and Transatlantic Tourism
    (pp. 111-146)

    In 1949 French officials at the Chicago consulate issued an urgent memo to Henri Bonnet, the French ambassador, about the consequences of new French and American programs aimed at promoting transatlantic tourism. Americans, the consul warned, “think that France, and particularly Paris, is becoming the playground of America.”³ Paris, the consul continued, was perceived as an essentially tourist space, a place “where the citizens of the United States can free themselves of all constraints.” Concluding his letter, the consul wondered how the American public would ever be able to understand the “difficulties of life faced by the mass of the...

  10. Chapter 4 The Labor Information Program: “An Information Panzer Force”
    (pp. 147-192)

    In 1950 Kenneth Douty, the chief labor officer of the French Mission of the ERP, presented his assessment of the Marshall Plan’s impact on the lives of French workers. His findings were stark. “We have furnished neither the moral nor the material antidote,” he wrote, “that has gained worker acceptance. Until tangible results underscore our moral position, we can count only on the mistakes of the Communists to help us in the battle for the allegiance of French workers.”² Douty worried that the U.S. emphasized productivity over wages. He pointed out that the Marshall Plan had not increased the standard...

  11. Chapter 5 The Makers of Stories
    (pp. 193-230)

    In 1948 the Communist intellectual Georges Soria published an apocalyptic warning about the dangers the Marshall Plan posed to France.¹ According to Soria, the Marshall Plan threatened France’s economy in a number of ways. It impeded the development of the French industry (particularly aeronautical) and hurt French agriculture by glutting the market with American surpluses; American capitalists in the service of the “great trusts” traveled around Europe like so many vultures buying up weakened European companies; French companies, “forced” to purchase raw material from American suppliers, struggled to raise profits. The Marshall Plan was an oppressive yoke. Even more alarming,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 231-240)

    In early 1950 a team of French mountaineers left the offices of the French Alpine Club at No. 7 rue La Boétie. Their objective was the summit of the Himalayan peak Annapurna and the glory of the first ascent of an eight thousand meter peak. On 3 June 1950, after months of hardship, the expedition’s leader Maurice Herzog and the veteran climber Louis Lachenal planted the tricolor atop the summit. The duo almost perished in their effort and they suffered permanent disfigurement from frostbite. In the words of one French alpinist: “All France knows the price that had to be...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-252)
  14. Index
    (pp. 253-260)