Not way back, the thinner French connections of John Kerry, certainly one of Mr. Blinken’s predecessors as secretary of state, drew snickers from conservatives who implied that Mr. Kerry, a adorned Vietnam Warfare veteran, was in some way lower than totally American (or “appears to be like French,” as President George W. Bush’s commerce secretary, Donald L. Evans, as soon as quipped).
In contrast with Mr. Blinken, nevertheless, Mr. Kerry — who discovered French at a Swiss boarding faculty and spent summers at his grandparents’ house in coastal Brittany — was a vacationer gawking on the Eiffel Tower.
After Mr. Blinken’s mom married her second husband in 1971, Samuel Pisar — a outstanding Polish-born diplomat, lawyer and political eminence who had relocated to Paris years earlier than — she introduced 9-year-old Antony to stay there with them.
Judith Blinken shortly made her personal mark within the French capital. A former director of music on the Brooklyn Academy of Music, she thrived as a sort of cultural ambassador in Paris, serving to promote establishments just like the American Heart in Paris, which is now closed. A 1993 Chicago Tribune profile described her as a flawless French speaker and “impeccable hostess” who “attire with the aplomb and confidence that’s innate to Frenchwomen.” She continuously entertained on the household house simply off the upscale Avenue Foch within the sixteenth Arrondissement, “a really fashionable, all white, bi-level condominium crammed with main artwork items.”
Mr. Blinken attended the École Energetic Bilingue, a faculty in central Paris, not removed from the Arc de Triomphe. His classmates included Robert Malley, a lifelong good friend who’s now the State Division’s particular envoy for Iran. Mr. Blinken shortly picked up French and built-in into the tradition whereas nonetheless discovering methods to embrace his American roots: When the primary McDonald’s opened in Paris, he raced there with buddies and have become a daily buyer. He additionally fell in love with American rock music, enjoying guitar in a band that carried out at his highschool commencement.
As a teen in Paris, he took an curiosity in worldwide politics and parried hostile views of america from buddies at a time when leftist critiques of the Chilly Warfare have been widespread there. In an interview with The New York Times in June, throughout his first go to to France as secretary of state, Mr. Blinken known as his time in Paris “a life-changing expertise” that allowed him “to have the ability to see my very own nation from a distinct perspective. And that was a really highly effective factor.”
Mr. Blinken left France in 1980 to attend Harvard College and Columbia Legislation College, then returned for 2 years to work at a legislation agency in Paris.