V-E Day, As Experienced by a French Child

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Guy Prunier (indicated with arrow) with his classmates, 1942-43

May 8 marks the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, the day that Allied forces formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Needless to say that was a big event, and an important date in world history. This post offers a microscopic view of this major world event by asking a simple question: How was V-E day experienced by an eleven-year-old boy in a little French village (Les Riceys, l’Aube) who had lived nearly half of his short life in a France that was suffering “under the Nazi boot”?

Guy Prunier, now an 81-year-old retired sound engineer living in Mussy-sur-Seine, can tell us. “On the 8 of May 1945, I was alone in our house. My father was at work, and my mother had gone out with my brother and my little sister. It was a beautiful day and the windows onto the street were open. Suddenly all the bells in the three churches of Les Riceys began to peal at once, which both startled and worried me. Then I started to hear gunfire, which made me even more worried. Pulling together all my courage, I went to peek out of the windows, and I saw that everyone was in the streets, some waving hunting rifles in the air, everyone laughing and embracing, many with tears in their eyes. The war is over! they were shouting. That’s what I remember.”

The wartime memories that Prunier has preceding this date are scattered, but intense. “The war was during the time I was seven until I was eleven. So obviously I didn’t really participate in the events, but for four years I lived through it, and it has left me with very powerful memories that have marked me for life,” he says. “I remember the sight of German soldiers parading through the streets, goose stepping, singing their songs of war. I will always have this image in my mind, and I still have a negative reaction when I hear German spoken.” He pauses, looks sad, and adds, “I can’t help it.”

He goes on, “My family didn’t suffer particularly under Nazi occupation, other than the general shortages that everyone suffered from. I remember how my mother had to work so hard to feed us, clothe us, keep us warm. In the beginning of 1943, my father was sent to work in Germany in a factory in Hamburg for several months. He didn’t dare disobey for fear of reprisals. He did get special permission after my baby sister was born to not return to Germany, but after that he went underground and later the Gestapo was looking for him. He hid for a certain time in a little cabin in the vineyards, and I would ride to him on my bicycle and bring him food. Needless to say, I made those trips with my heart in my mouth, terrified of being stopped and searched…I was barely 10 years old.”

The liberation of France of course had come earlier: the liberation of Paris on 26 August 1944; of Troyes, capital of l’Aube (the département where les Riceys is located) on August 21; and Mussy-sur-Seine, the village where Guy Prunier now lives, on September 2, just a month after the Maquis Montcalm–a Resistance unit of approximately 1200 fighters who had hidden in the forest between Mussy-sur-Seine and Grancey-sur-Ource–were chased from their camp, and the inhabitants of the villages subjected to brutal reprisals by the Nazis. But that is another story, and one that the adult Guy Prunier has devoted much of his retirement years to researching, documenting and sharing with the public. Each year on the anniversary of the escape of the maquisards from the forest, Prunier leads a hike through the forest, following their trail. He is also the founder of the local Chemins de Memoire, and the keeper of the collection of wartime and Resistance artifacts in Mussy-sur-Seine.

mussy guy prunier photo 2

Guy Prunier, 2014, telling the story of the escape of the Maquis Montcalm from the forest outside of Mussy-sur-Seine.

Like Prunier’s personal recollection of hearing the bells peal, and seeing the villagers rejoice on a beautiful day in May, the story of the Maquis Montcalm is just one small piece of a larger story of the French resistance and its role in the liberation of France. And that is a story for another day. Stay tuned!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She writes about France for Bonjour Paris, France Revisited, and on this blog. She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” in Paris each summer for Queens College, CUNY, and also teaches classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C.  

May 3, 2015 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Book Review: David Downie’s “A Passion for Paris: Romanticism & Romance in the City of Light”

Cover Nov 4 2014

Paris Paris: Journey into the City of Light is the book I almost always recommend when someone asks me which book they should take to Paris if they can only take one. This delightful collection of essays is full of fascinating background information about the city—particularly rich in historical and architectural detail—and enriched by the lively, personable, and idiosyncratic point of view of its author, David Downie.

Now—especially for those who are interested in the romantic reputation of the city and/or its 19th century history—there is a second volume you need to bring on your next trip to Paris. But why wait until then?

As other reviewers have already pointed out, A Passion for Paris: Romanticism & Romance in the City of Light is “intrepidly researched” (Booklist); offers “encyclopedic knowledge of the city and its magical story” (Kirkus Reviews); and is “wickedly humorous…exquisitely told…a must-read for true Paris lovers” (Harriet Welty Rochefort).

All of this is true, and is just a small sampling of the accolades rolling in.

A Passion for Paris is an extremely complex and sophisticated achievement, and very difficult to summarize. Forgive me for saying you really just have to read it if you have any interest whatsoever in France, past, present, or future.

I must confess that I approached this book with very little inherent interest in learning a great deal about this particular period of French history, other than my general curiosity about all things French. But such is my respect for and admiration of Downie as a writer that of course I wanted to read it. And such is his literary skill that I found myself instantly drawn in and not only interested, but mesmerized, by Paris of the Romantic Age as he has brought it to life.

Just a few of the many things I enjoyed learning about in A Passion for Paris: the personalities, lives, and loves of that great triumvirate of 19th century French writers, Hugo, Balzac, and Baudelaire, not to mention a great many other interesting characters of the period, and how they related to each other; how and why George Sand is such an important feminist figure; who it was that became known for walking a lobster on a leash in the gardens of the Palais Royal; and how the French came to have such an inordinate amount (from an American point of view) of fascination with and respect for Edgar Allan Poe.

As is usual with Downie’s work, it’s not just historical facts and information we gain. He is also most generous in sharing his always intelligent, often provocative ruminations on what all that history means–not only what it meant back then, but what it continues to mean for us today, and may continue to mean to humanity going forward. With Downie as our guide we find ourselves reflecting, for example, on fundamental differences between the nature of the French and the American revolutions—“France and America are children of the Age of Enlightenment and of revolutions,” he writes, and adds, “One major difference marks the infancy and adolescence of these revolutionary nations: America had George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, France Napoléon Bonaparte and Robespierre. From the American Revolution sprang pragmatic optimism and democratic continuity in a ‘New World’ with lots of room to roam, a place free from European historical baggage. From the French Revolution grew the cult of perpetual struggle and world-weary pessimism, the guillotine, and Romanticism, the ambiguous creature facing both backward and forward, like the ancient Roman god Janus. He is alive and well today in the heart of every French citizen.”

But I think what I love most about this book, as about all of Downie’s nonfiction works about France, is the way the reader is brought intimately into the adventure of his discoveries as he performs his intrepid research. We are spared, of course, the many hours of reading in dusty libraries he has done for us. But when he sets out into the Paris of today in search of its ghosts of yesteryear, he takes us along with him. We are there with him as he interviews the archivist at the Victor Hugo Museum, and the director of the Arsenal Library–a gathering place for such Romantic age luminaries as Dumas, Liszt, de Musset, Delacroix, Balzac, and Gautier—a place which, Downie tells us, “hasn’t changed much since the 1820s.” We are there with him as he sneaks up back stairways and into private courtyards in his furtive attempts to connect with Romantic heroes of the past, to look out the same windows they looked out of, gaze upon the same courtyards they would have seen. We are there with him in those rare moments when he is able to commune with those spirits of the past, and we benefit from his informed musings on them. And we are also there to enjoy his ever-present wit, and his incisive understanding and explication of French character, for both better and worse.

For me, though, I think the most precious thing of all about this book is this. David Downie has captured the essence of what remains in the Paris of today from her romantic past in a way that no one else has, or could. This work is strictly unique, a wonderful combination of rigorous research and the author’s lively, personal interpretation of what that research reveals. Downie has written about the foundations of Romanticism in Paris in such a way that if someone reads this book a hundred years from now they will learn about more than Paris of the 19th century. Perhaps even more important, they will learn a great deal about Paris of the early 21st century, as seen by an exceptionally curious, exceptionally intrepid American traveler, a masterful writer who has brought the romantic past of Paris to life for us in a richly complex, thought-provoking, inimitable way.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She writes about France for Bonjour Paris, France Revisited, and on this blog (you’ll find more posts on Paris here). She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” in Paris each summer for Queens College, CUNY, and also teaches classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. 

April 16, 2015 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

A Conversation with David Downie, author of A Passion for Paris

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Photo copyright Alison Harris

David Downie is a native San Franciscan who moved to Paris in the mid-1980s and now divides his time between France and Italy. He is the author of more than a dozen nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptical Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James and Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, now in its 10th printing. He is also the author of two thrillers, and his travel, food, and arts features have appeared in more than 50 print magazines and newspapers worldwide. His latest book, A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light, will be published by St. Martin’s Press this month. It’s been met with lavish advance praise–and my review of it is coming soon, so stay tuned!

Downie recently took the time to answer my questions about A Passion for Paris, as well as the critically acclaimed Paris to the Pyrenees, and Paris, Paris. 

Cover Nov 4 2014

JH: Your new book, “A Passion for Paris,” is subtitled “Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light.” I think most readers will instantly understand what is meant by “a passion for Paris” (or at least will feel that they do). But what is the distinction between romanticism and romance?

DD: I would say that “passion” should be interpreted in the widest sense. This is not a “gush” book about romantic passion in Paris, though it recounts a number of passionate affairs, and passions of all kinds.

Romanticism with a capital “R” is a specific, though hard to define, period of history: literary history, art history, political history, and so on. Most historians agree than in France it comprises the years 1820-1860, though many would go back to 1800 and extend as far as the 1880s, or even to 1914, the outbreak of World War I. Basically, romanticism is about individual liberty, freedom, the inner light shining out into the world, the struggle of man and woman-kind to affirm the importance of the individual over the hierarchy or group, the person of intelligence and excellence over the hereditary aristocracy, and so forth. It is essentially about struggle, rebellion, and passion—passion for the arts and literature, passion for others—sexual passion and freedom. It coincides with the beginning of what is often called the “modern age,” the age we live in today, though the clothing and modes of transportation look different.

In fact the first instances of the use of the word “modern” come around 1800. It was Victor Hugo who started talking in the 1820s about the modern age, compared to the classic—meaning the outmoded—age. Victor Hugo is one of the heroes of this book. It has many heroes—and many heroines too. The role of women shifted mightily during the Age of Romanticism, and we are finally experiencing the benefits of the recognition of women as fully fledged persons, not merely adjuncts or servants of men. George Sand was an absolute pioneer in this and she is the main heroine of my book, a fascinating woman!

“Romance” is closely associated with Romanticism, but nowadays people think of it as purple, scarlet, lusty–about love, sex, naughtiness, and wholly hedonistic. There is a component of this aspect of romanticism in the book because modern romance—the kind we experience today, with people sacrificing and marrying or eloping, or reshaping their lives for love, not land or money or power—really was born in the Age of Romanticism.

JH: Massive amounts of research went into writing this book, and yet your approach is very personal, and in some places delightfully fanciful. What made you want to write this book, how long did it take you to write it, and what kept you going when it seemed (as it must have seemed, at times) an impossible thing to accomplish?

DD: I fell under the spell of Paris sometime in the 1970s when I first spent time here. I was a teenager! This was a painful experience, because I did not want to be in the thrall of this city. I loved Rome, I loved San Francisco, why Paris? Paris to me seemed elegant and cool—meaning chilly. I did not connect with the Parisians, and I kept wondering what it was about the place and these maddening French people that drew me back. Was it the image of the city I got from Hollywood movies? The history I had read about? The lives of the Great Romantics, like Victor Hugo, or Charles Baudelaire, or Honoré de Balzac, or my own personal hero, Félix Nadar?

Nadar was the photographer who in real life knew and loved Mimi of La Bohème, and I was an opera nut. I was miffed to discover that Puccini’s masterpiece was based on a book written by a Frenchman, and largely true. I liked the fact it was true, and wanted to know who these people were. I tell that story in my book, so I won’t steal my own thunder. But my early relationship with Paris was pugilistic. Then I became enchanted. I also met and married my wife here. I’ve been here about 30 years, and I have always tried to understand the spell Paris casts on people from all over the world. That is how the book was born. Why Paris? Why not Rome, or Amsterdam, or New York, or Tokyo, or San Francisco?

As to how long it took to research and write? One answer is, a lifetime. Another is that I had very little time, because publishers now demand a good “return on investment,” so writers have no more than a year, or 18 months max, to write a book. It almost killed me to make the deadline, even though I am very familiar with the themes, the people, and the place, and had done a lot of research to write my proposal. It did seem nearly impossible to pull off, and I am still recovering from the effort.

JH: To what extent (if any) are we still living in a Romantic world? And, separate question, what do we have to learn from the Romantics? So much of what we know of this period and the personages in it seems hardly worthy of emulation–dissolute living, wild and often ruinous love affairs, melancholy, narcissism, various types of histrionics–but sturm und drang aside, what is the real legacy of the Romantics? What do we owe them, and what did they have that we need more of in our world?

DD: I think I’ve answered a lot of this above. We are definitely still living in the Romantic Age—modernism and postmodernism are merely kinks, or subcategories, of Romanticism’s modern branch. Some of it is negative and some of it is positive. We don’t really have the choice of being or not being like the Romantics—we are products of that world.

We live, as the Romantics did, with total syncretism. We have amazing science and “progress,” and yet we have millions of creationists and people who seek religion and spirituality and deny evolution. We are nostalgic, yet we want to go forward. We are individualists to such an extent that we are sacrificing the common good and destroying our planet because we cannot see that what we want for ourselves and our families, or group, or nation, is going to be bad for everyone in the long run. Modern narcissism began with the Romantics!

The good points are, we are often skeptical, we rebel, we challenge authority, we have a sense of history and the past—at least some of us do—and of historic preservation that no one had in the pre-modern, pre-Romantic world. Here again, “passion” is the key: we often follow our hearts no matter what the cost. We buck trends, we go against the odds, we challenge science because we want to believe in something more, in something eternal: God, the gods, or perhaps art and beauty, or the perfectibility of the species, or the creation of a utopia (or a dystopia if we’re nasty). We want to believe but often we can’t—that is the key, that is the “romantic agony” as it has been called. It would be impossible to turn the clock back to pre-modern, pre-Romantic times in the West. To achieve that you would have to physically go to one of the benighted countries of the world, where contemporary madmen and women are trying to bring back the Middle Ages. The Romantic Age and the mindset of modern-romantic people are the opposite of what is going on with ISIS and the other terrorist groups of the world, who want to destroy the individual.

JH: I’ve just read your book “Paris to the Pyrenees” for the second time, in preparation for a class I was teaching. One of the things that struck me is the current relevance of much of the musing you did, and some of the conversations you had with people along the way on that trek, about the question of French identity and the ideals of the French republic, especially the notion of laicité and its roots in the anticlericalism of the French Revolution. In the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January and the ensuing conversations about current social issues in France, have you found yourself going back to some of the thoughts you had about France and French identity on your trek through the heart of it a few years ago? How do the issues of cultural identity, secularism and, in general “liberté, égalité, fraternité,” relate to issues of immigration, integration and/or assimilation in France today?

Paris_to_the_Pyrenees_cover

DD: Wow, this would require an entire book to answer. How about your readers read Paris to the Pyrenees to find out?

I stand by what I wrote in that book: France is militantly secular—the Nation has replaced God. However it is a divided society: about one-third is centrist, or center-right, and more or less progressive and open to the world, though they tend to have pro-French, mildly anti-immigrant feelings, and can also be nostalgic for a time when France was not globalized. Another third are socialists or social-democrats, and they are very progressive, open, and largely welcoming to immigrants, and suspicious of nationalism. The last third is extreme right, paranoid, potentially dangerous, backward looking, nationalistic, ignorant, sometimes racist and anti-Semitic, and nearly always xenophobic—they distrust and hate foreigners—and nutty when it comes to basic economics. All of the above face backwards and forwards at the same time, and each group is at daggers drawn with the others. If you think the Tea Party and Democrats disagree, that’s nothing compared to what goes on here!

Add to this cocktail Europe’s biggest Muslim community—estimated at about 6 million—many of whose members are believers who go to mosques and follow the rites and rituals of Islam, and you have an explosive situation. It’s illegal to keep statistics on race and religion in France but it’s estimated that only about 7 percent of the French are practicing Catholics and fewer than half of the French now identify themselves as Catholic, or of Catholic culture.

The biggest difference between France and America in this wise is, in the U.S. we boast about “freedom of religion,” and in France the rule is “freedom from religion.” Again, the cult of the nation replaces religion, and you are measured by the standard of what is good for the nation, or collectivity. This goes back to the French Revolution, and it is one of the underpinnings of Romanticism and the modern age: the end of absolutism, the birth of a republic, the notion of modern man who must make his way in the world without God or the gods, and who is absolutely free to speak his mind and publish, mock, ridicule whatever he wants. There is an irony in this: the new enemy of the individual is the collectivity and the nation! The real hero of this struggle was Voltaire of course, and Voltaire is read by every French person, and admired by nearly all of them today, as well he should be.

JH: “Paris Paris: Journey into the City of Light” is the book I almost always recommend when someone asks me, “If I can bring only one book with me to Paris what should it be?” Do you have a favorite essay in “Paris Paris,” and if so why is it your favorite?

2Q==

DD: That’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is! I stand by all of them. Perhaps the one that captures the spirit of the city and of my new book too is the one about Paris in the year 1900. The past lives on—not just in the buildings and streets, but in the hearts and minds of the French people.

JH: What’s next from David Downie? Your fans are eager to know!

DD: I’m happy to say that I’ve just signed with St. Martin’s Press for another book about Paris, this time a lively memoir and quest merged into a history of the Parisian love affair with food. Paris is where the notion of gourmet dining was born. Paris is often cited as the greatest food city on the planet—at least it was until everyone became a know-it-all “foodie,” and started to say that London, or New York, or Sydney had better food. I’m not convinced of that, and in any case, my interest lies in the culture and history of food in Paris. As in A Passion for Paris, I will be asking why Parisians are, or were, at the cutting edge of the food culture for centuries. Why Paris, why not Rome or elsewhere? There will be lots of anecdotes, a few recipes, and plenty of exploration of restaurants and shops and whatnot–then and now.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She writes about France for Bonjour Paris, France Revisited, and on this blog (you’ll find more posts on Paris here). She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” in Paris each summer for Queens College, CUNY, and also teaches classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. 

April 7, 2015 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Demystifying the French: Tip #4

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Tip #4: Shhh!!! 

This is one of the tips that is perhaps both hardest to understand and (probably consequently) hardest for Americans to remember. But it is a very important one, both in terms of improving your own experience in France, and in terms of improving our national reputation there. :-)

There is a New Yorker cartoon I often share with my study abroad students in their on-site orientation in Paris. It shows an American couple with a little boy, probably about eight years old, standing on a city street clearly in France somewhere. The man is studying an open map. The woman is leaning toward the boy, who is holding a toy airplane and looking bewildered. The woman, with finger to lips, is saying, “Not so loud, sweetie. We’re in Europe.”

Generally speaking Europeans–well, at least French people–speak at a much lower decibel level, and in general make much less noise when in public, than we do. Because they do, it is first of all not necessary to speak as loudly in public places as Americans are used to doing. (Why? Because if everyone speaks more quietly, everyone else doesn’t have to bellow in order to be heard. It’s kind of amazingly wonderful!)

You will no doubt find, if you are ever so lucky as to ever spend a good deal of time in Paris that one day you will be sitting in a cafe somewhere, enjoying the soft murmur of nearby conversation, the quiet clinking of silverware and glasses, the ambient noise of the nearby street. Or you may be strolling along the Seine, enjoying the beauty of the view, the river barges passing by, the beautiful, luminous open sky. And gradually, for some reason you do not initially understand, you will feel your brow furrowing, and you will begin to feel irritated, you know not why.

And then suddenly you will know: it is a group of your countrymen (or women) that has burst your bubble of quiet contentment at being in this beautiful place: they are cackling, they are shouting, they are saying embarrassing things at the top of their lungs.

“Ay-yay-yay…” you will sigh.

So. Just know this. We all tend to talk more loudly than we need to. We don’t mean anything bad by it, we can’t help it, it’s just a bad habit. And it’s not a problem at home. But it is when we are traveling around Europe. It’s actually kind of obnoxious.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to do when we find ourselves in a place that has made us so happy, so excited! And we are among friends, whether new ones or old!

But. Try to remember to keep the volume down, okay?

The payoff? You may see–and hear–things you wouldn’t have seen or heard, if you hadn’t taken the trouble to follow this tip.

So try it! Pourquoi pas?

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She writes about France for Bonjour Paris, France Revisited, and on this blog (you’ll find more posts on Paris here). This spring she will be teaching “A Literary Journey into the Heart of France” and “Parlez-Vous Anglais? Survival French and French Travel Tips” at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. 

 

March 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

Lafayette (et Charlie, et Ahmed) nous voici!

DCMarchFranceJan15

Nous sommes Charlie, nous sommes Ahmed. Nous sommes juifs, nous sommes musulmanes, nous sommes chrétiens, nous sommes tristes. Et détérminés de faire de demain un jour mieux qu’aujourd’hui…

Last Sunday, several thousand of us who probably would have rather been in Paris, but were instead in or near Washington D.C. accepted the French Ambassador’s invitation to join him and other dignitaries in a silent march to honor the victims of the massacre in Paris last week.

It was also, of course, an opportunity to show our solidarity with and love of the French people–all of them, from the irreverent (and brilliant, and brave) journalists at Charlie Hebdo to the Muslim policeman who was brutally murdered while defending them, to the (also Muslim) “hero of Vincennes” whose courage and quick thinking  saved the lives of customers in the kosher grocery store that was attacked on Friday. And to show our support for the millions of Frenchmen and women in grief and shock over the violent and brutal attack on their beautiful république, and the values they hold most dear.

So we did. We gathered at the Newseum (a museum of journalism) and walked half a mile or so to–quite appropriately–the National Memorial to Law Enforcement Officers.

Many of the people were French. Many were Francophiles. Some were just people–young, old, and many in-between–who were appalled at the attack on humanity in general, and who wanted to take part somehow in the healing.

Of the many creative ways people found to express their grief, their convictions, their love, I think I liked the ones about drawing the most. One little girl being carried on a parent’s shoulders held up a sign that said, “J’ai le droit de dessiner” (“I have the right to draw”).

Then there was this one, reminding us of just how far back our debt to the the French people goes:

DCMarchFranceLafayette

 

Some artists, characteristically, used no words at all to express themselves. This is the sculptural tribute a friend mounted outside his home in Silver Spring.

DCMarchRueckertSculpture

 

And then there was this. Probably a good note to end this post on.

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“There are some new ones over there, who would like some paper and pencils…”

 

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland. She writes about France for Bonjour Paris, France Revisited, and on this blog (you’ll find more posts on Paris here). This spring she will be teaching “A Literary Journey into the Heart of France” and “Parlez-Vous Anglais? Survival French and French Travel Tips” at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. 

 

January 14, 2015 at 4:27 am 2 comments

Today, just three words…

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Thanks to Gary Lee Kraut at France Revisited. (www.francerevisited.com)

 

January 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

On the Normalization of U.S.-Cuban Relations

Janet Hulstrand:

Update on Cuba: A Pre-Christmas Gift for Two Nations?

I have always had a bit of trouble reconciling the hopeful phrase “peace on earth” with everyday news from around the world. But this year, amidst abundant distressing and worrisome news there was one bit of long-awaited good news to brighten the season. Today I am pleased to reblog this post from an American student who shares his thoughts about the implications of this news. Full disclosure: the author is my son, who has spent a significant amount of time over the past three years learning about, thinking about, and spending time in Cuba. Thanks, Phineas!

Originally posted on Havana Special Period:

I woke up to an unexpected text message from a friend last Wednesday morning. She wrote: OH MY GOD, CUBA FREED ALAN GROSS. Or something like that.

I knew right away that this piece of news would turn into an avalanche. And a look at the New York Times corroborated my premonition. In a breaking news story it outlined, along with the freeing of Gross from a Cuban prison, the impending release of three Cuban spies/heroes (depending upon whom you ask) from their detention in Miami and the promise of normalized bilateral relations between the U.S and Cuba.

View original 1,809 more words

December 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

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