Not way back, the thinner French connections of John Kerry, considered one of Mr. Blinken’s predecessors as secretary of state, drew snickers from conservatives who implied that Mr. Kerry, a embellished Vietnam Conflict veteran, was one way or the other lower than absolutely American (or “seems to be 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’ residence 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 distinguished Polish-born diplomat, lawyer and political eminence who had relocated to Paris years earlier than — she introduced 9-year-old Antony to reside 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 type of cultural ambassador in Paris, serving to promote establishments just like the American Middle 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 ceaselessly entertained on the household residence simply off the upscale Avenue Foch within the 16th 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 buddy 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 an everyday buyer. He additionally fell in love with American rock music, enjoying guitar in a band that carried out at his highschool commencement.
As an adolescent in Paris, he took an curiosity in worldwide politics and parried hostile views of the USA from buddies at a time when leftist critiques of the Chilly Conflict 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 referred to as his time in Paris “a life-changing expertise” that allowed him “to have the ability to see my very own nation from a unique perspective. And that was a really highly effective factor.”
Mr. Blinken left France in 1980 to attend Harvard College and Columbia Regulation College, then returned for 2 years to work at a regulation agency in Paris.