Ghetto” is a Cold War tale from France of birth, growth and death of a huge
U.S. Air Force base as relived through the heretofore dormant memories and
voices of both the occupier and the occupied.
Tens of thousands of American GIs passed through Dèols-Châteauroux Air
Station during the sixteen years that it was the largest U.S. Air Force supply
base in Europe. Hundreds of hours of
interviews and long forgotten photos provide for the first time a unique blend
of voices seldom if ever heard. French
citizens describe what it was like to have foreign troops roaming the streets
of their city. The Americans recount
what it was like to be viewed with initial distrust and suspicion, if not
outright hatred, fueled by a local communist anti-American propaganda machine
under the direct control of the Kremlin.
When the end came and the base was padlocked, it was our reluctant
friend and ally Charles de Gaulle who administered the coup de grâce and NATO vanished from France. Although “Golden Ghetto” is uniquely a French
and American story, this saga is also a microcosm of what was experienced by
the 120 million American men and women who served in the military during the
Cold War, 27 million of them overseas. Considering
the suspicions, jealousies, bigotry, and crass opportunism inherent whenever
one foreign power occupies another, “Golden Ghetto” pieces together an
improbable love story.
belonged to a communist family and I remember walking in the streets with
petitions against the U.S. intrusion in France.
People later realized that the Americans were manna from heaven who
improved their lives. They were happy
because of them. But I must say, I am
surprised that it is an American not a Frenchman that is giving an in depth
account of this period.”
Boizeau, Communist publisher of “La Bouinotte,” a leading regional magazine in
Air Force Major General John Riddle (Ret.)
“Steve Bassett's book demonstrates to his readers that across the Atlantic, in a provincial town of France, the memory of this American period is very long-lived.”
Jean-François Mayet, a member of the French Assembly, Senator l'Indre County, Mayor of Châteauroux
“Your book is one of a kind. There have been many books written by French
authors about the Americans in France during the Cold War, but never one by an
American writer. I know the books that
have been written and have read many of them myself. There has been nothing to match what you
Mme. Lydie Gerbaud, press secretary for Jacques Chirac during his tenures as French President and Prime Minister.
Steve Bassett sadly notes in his book,“Thousands of jobs for the French supported the local economy which grew by more than 33% in a few years with Uncle Sam…There was a time where one in six Berrichon received a cheque from the Golden Ghetto." And all that remains today is nostalgia.
Jean-François Donny, French journalist and author whose books include “U.S. Go Home.”