Added: August 9, 2014 – Last updated: October 1, 2016


Interviewer: Roxanne PanchasiInterviewee: Mary Louise Roberts

Title: What Soldiers Do

Subtitle: Sex and the American GI in World War II France

Program: New Books in French Studies

Channel: New Books Network

Date: May 24, 2013

Duration: 1:05:57 min.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History; European History: French History | Types: Wartime Rape / Second World War


Link: New Books Network (Free Access)


Interviewer: Roxanne Panchasi, Department of History, Simon Fraser University

Interviewee: Mary Lou Roberts, Department of History, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Publication: Roberts, Mary L. What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France. Chicago 2013. – Bibliographic Entry: Info


»Tracking soldiers from the villages and towns of Northern France, to the “Silver Foxhole” of Paris, to tribunals that convicted a disproportionate number of African-American soldiers of rape, Mary Louise Roberts’ latest book reveals a side of the Liberation of 1944-45 that is typically obscured in histories of the D-Day landings and the months that followed. What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France (University of Chicago Press, 2013) draws on a wealth of material from French and American archives to show us that the war was an experience saturated with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch. Battles were critical, of course, but so too was sex.
The American GI in war-torn France was a soldier, a tourist, a liberator, and also a destroyer. Military propaganda represented the Normandy campaign as a soldier’s opportunity for sexual adventure, framing the invasion and occupation of France in terms of the rescue of damsels in distress by heroic tough guys from a manly nation. Convinced of the hyper-sexuality of French women and culture, many American soldiers courted, paid for sex with, and even assaulted women they met in French homes, streets, hotels, and brothels. This is a book about what American GIs thought about France; what they did while they were “over there”; how French women and men received and responded to the “advances” of American troops; and the lasting impact of this complex set of encounters on individual lives, communities, and politics.« (Source: New Books Network)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of France | History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1918–45) | Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence | War: World War II / Rape during the liberation of France, United States war crimes