Americans in Paris, By Charles Glass

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The Independent Culture

In the midst of these stories about American expatriates in Paris during the Nazi occupation (such as Sylvia Beach, the owner of the bookshop Shakespeare and Company, and the remarkable surgeon Sumner Waldron Jackson, who took over the American Hospital of Paris after its director committed suicide on the Nazis' arrival in the city) is the tale of one who left right at the beginning of the occupation.

Eugene Bullard was the African-American son of a slave, who ran away from home at the age of 10 when his father was threatened with a lynching. He sailed as a stowaway to Hamburg, Glasgow and Manchester, before becoming a professional boxer and settling in Paris, where he joined the French Foreign Legion, fought for France during the First World War and was commended for bravery. He opened up a jazz nightclub but knew, because of the colour of his skin and his record of fighting for France, that he'd be first on the Nazis' list, so he walked miles to get on a ship and leave.

The value of Charles Glass's book is in reading stories such as Bullard's; tales of remarkable individuals who would otherwise go unnoticed by the world.

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