The Other Americans in ParisBusinessmen, Countesses, Wayward Youth, 1880-1941

The Other Americans in ParisBusinessmen, Countesses, Wayward Youth, 1880-1941

Nancy L. Green

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226306889

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

There is an untold tale of Americans in Paris, a history of expatriation and immigration that parallels the story of the “Lost Generation” expatriates who came to France for creative inspiration. This book argues that the “other Americans in Paris” –American heiresses who married cash-poor French noblemen, wayward souls who got into trouble there but especially American businessmen living on the Right Bank of the Seine – are part of an important story of the early half of the “American Century.” Following these overseas Americans is a way of internationalizing American history while questioning the meaning of “Americanization” in the twentieth century. At the same time, this book is an exercise in immigration history, discussing the parameters of community formation (chapter 1) and the sometimes paradoxical uses of citizenship and of their consulate by citizens abroad (chapter 2). It provides a new perspective on early twentieth-century business history (chapters 4 and 5) while examining the social relations that accompanied it (chapter 3 on marriage and divorce). However, after analyzing the ways in which Americans banded together, chapter 7 turns the community paradigm on its head and examines the interactions and the “reciprocal visions” of Americans and the French. Finally, while recognizing that not all Americans abroad are rich (see chapter 6 on the American poor), this book provides ample proof that “elite migration,” a neglected topic in the field of migration history, can provide a new historic dimension to transnational expats while testing our very class-linked definition of “immigration” itself.