112 Gripes about the French

Do you find yourself hating or not understanding the French? Are you an American G.I. situated in France during 1945 after having just liberated it? Well then this is the pamphlet for you!

Written and published in 1945 by the Information & Education Division of the U.S. Occupation Forces, this little info book was meant to soothe the tense relations between the French and Americans during WWII. The Americans, perhaps a bit cocky, and proud of their victory to pull France from Germany's clutches, didn't understand why the French were becoming more and more ungrateful and resentful towards their American saviours. The pamphlet goes about answering questions or statements like: "Why bother about the French?" (N°21), or "The French drink too much" (N°59) with logical counter-statements. Some of the answers are well thought out and would stop any logical man right in his tracks. My favourite, however, is the only non-logical or backed-up one:

N°48. "I'd like the French a lot better if they were cleaner."

-That's perfectly understandable.

How brilliant is that?

In the own words of the original author/editor (listed only as the U.S. Occupation Forces):

 This booklet tries to help some of us understand an ally - the French. It is not meant either to "defend" the French or to chastise those Americans who do not like the French. It is intended simply to bring into reasonable focus those irritations, dissatisfactions and misunderstandings which arise because it is often hard for the people of one country to understand the people of another.

The full 112 gripes have been uploaded to the Internet, and can now be freely enjoyed from your screen. Somehow, the pamphlet is hosted on a pasta recipe site, so don't ask me who uploaded it, or why or when. All I know for sure is, it's here for your pleasure.

Alternatively, it has recently been republished (ISBN 978-1419165122) as it was originally, but also as a French translation: "Nos Amis les Français" (ISBN 978-2749101286) ("Our Friends the French").

This entry was posted in History, Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a reply