By Paul Lesch

Published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (AMCHAM) in celebration of the U.S. Embassy’s 50th Anniversary on November 7, 2001, Playing Her Part: Perle Mesta in Luxembourg tells the story of the first American Minister to Luxembourg after World War II (1949-1953) who was known for her unique diplomatic style.

In 1950, Irving Berlin, the renowned American composer, wrote “Call Me Madam”, a musical inspired by the flamboyant Perle Mesta and her stay in Luxembourg. In the 1940s,  Perle Mesta was mainly known in the United States for her social and mundane interests. Her lavish cocktail parties attended by Washington’s political elite awarded her the name “hostess with the mostes’”. After having financially supported her personal friend, Democrat candidate Harry Truman, in the 1948 presidential election, Perle Mesta was appointed first American Minister to Luxembourg (1949-1953) where she lived up to her fame as she launched a diplomatic style of her own.

The book’s author, Paul Lesch, was born in Luxembourg in 1963 and studied history and cinema at Strasbourg University and New York University. He teaches these two subjects in several Luxembourg schools and at Miami University’s John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg. He is the author and co-author respectively of “René Leclère, Pionnier du cinéma luxembourgeois” (Centre National de l’Audiovisuel, 1999) and “Three Spotlights on Hitch” (Cinémathèque Municipale Luxembourg, 1999) and has produced a documentary film about Perle Mesta, entitled “Call Her Madam” (Samsa, 1997).

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