This assertion of the formative influence of American life, which surfaced briefly in the 1890s, was widely accepted among French intellectuals in the 1920s.
The organization of this study has been largely determined by a desire to clarify the interaction between the concerns of the French observer and the dynamic aspects of American life. Part I describes two different conceptions of American life which held sway among French observers in the prewar and wartime eras. These approaches, combined with the ideological orientation of the observers discussed in Part II, chapter 4, comprise the initial perspective against which French observers judged the events of the twenties. Their reactions to the broad pattern of events set in motion by the war, including the decline of Europe and the rise of American civilization, are presented in the last two chapters of Part II. Parts III and IV detail the attitudes of the intellectuals to the major new developments in American foreign policy and American society during the twenties. These reactions forced Frenchmen to reformulate their image both of the United States and of Franco-American relations as shown in Part V. The final section demonstrates that the new conceptions of the twenties proved to be surprisingly durable despite the upheaval of the Great Depression and World War II.