The following tribute to Paris-based American journalist Christopher Dickey was written by French-American Cultural Foundation board member Aaron Lewis.
One of our brightest transatlantic lights was extinguished on July 16 when legendary author, foreign correspondent and historian Chris Dickey died suddenly and unexpectedly in Paris.
I first met Chris at the Paris airshow in 2013 when Eleanor Beardsley of NPR brought him to a press lunch I was hosting. Beneath the china-rattling roar of Sukhois and F-16s flying just overhead, Chris’s lilting voice quickly had us all enraptured with his stories about Egypt and his famous father and other impossible things, except everything was true. It was ‘like’ at first sight.
At the time, he had been working on Our Man In Charleston which brilliantly retailed the part a British diplomat played in convincing the British Crown not to recognize the Confederacy. We discussed his book whenever we met, and he exuberantly shared the new and strange things he was discovering through his research about Victorian and Civil War era politics.
Conversations were so much fun because Chris treasured the absurd and the peculiar. He absolutely rejoiced one time when I told him that the antique men’s toilet at Goumard, a posh seafood restaurant in the 1st arrondisement had the word “Washington” engraved upon the rim in large letters. An early adoptor of social media, he snapped a photo and ran it on Instagram that afternoon.
Chris’s real love was for things that mattered, his wife, his son and his grandchildren, and his country. No discussions lasting more than five minutes with Chris failed to touch upon those subjects. And he was dazzlingly indefatigable. He never let up, bylines gracefully flying off of his laptop every other day or so. That this energy has now desisted is a shock to those of us who were energized by Chris’s fondness for everything good about the world.
He was our American in Paris, and through the legacy of his memorable words, always will be.
Photo Credit: Instagram @csdickey