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Remaking France

Remaking France

Brian A. McKenzie


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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.

"A useful, well-researched monograph … [that connects] the policy of Americanization that Marshall Planners overtly laid out in the late 1940s to its actual implementation as a form of cultural power. This is an aspect of the Marshall Plan experience that is often completely absent from the earlier cold-war focused scholarship."  ·  H-France

"This study opens up fascinating terrain for further critical evaluation in France and Western Europe."  ·  International Studies Review

"An intriguing analysis of the postwar Marshall Plan as a form of public diplomacy to win the hearts and minds of the recalcitrant French. It is a timely study given the current calls for a revival of the Marshall Plan as part of American global strategy… Rich and convincing evidence of the bureaucratic turf battles, the haggling between European recovery agencies, the naive propaganda experiments...There is much to learn from this book about what happens when foreign policy distorts into a vision of American national culture as a transformative model for the rest of the world."  ·  American Historical Review

Brian A. McKenzie teaches history and comparative government at Kutztown University. His work has previously been published in French Politics, Culture, and Society and presented at a number of professional conferences.