Considering the suspicions, jealousies, bigotry, and crass opportunism inherent whenever one power occupies another, Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell in and out of Love During the Cold War pieces together an improbable tale of how fear and skepticism were crushed by trust and friendship.
Award-winning journalist Steve Bassett stumbled onto this story shortly after he and his wife purchased a home in Sainte Colombe in Central France. They heard countless, somewhat mystical tales about how a huge US Air Force base transformed the political, economic, and social lives of two French and American generations lucky enough to grab onto the base’s brass ring. If ever a US military base deserved the sobriquet “Golden Ghetto”, it was the Déols-Châteauroux Air Station (CHAS), which for 16 years during the height of the Cold War was considered one of the most desirable postings in the world, until Charles de Gaulle booted the Americans and other NATO military out of France and the Golden Ghetto was padlocked.
Based on hundreds of hours of research and interviews, Golden Ghetto is a collective memoir, a first-ever look at life on an overseas base from the perspectives of both the occupied and occupier. Professional and amateur historians as well as casual listeners will be enthralled by this bird’s-eye view of how early Communist-driven distrust and paranoia never stood a chance against handshakes, smiles, and kisses.