Les Russes Nourrissent Autorité

Toutes les données dont nous disposons nous disent que les Russes nourrissent aujourd’hui un désir de verticalité, c’est-à-dire d’autorité. Si nous voulions recourir aux catégories de la psychanalyse, nous pourrions dire que les Russes attendent un chef qui fasse oublier le langage de la mère et se remette à imposer la langue du père.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Le mage du Kremlin: Greta Garbo

Puis-je vous poser une question ? Savez-vous quelle est la plus grande actrice de tous les temps ? » Poutine, inexpressif, secoua la tête.

« Greta Garbo. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que l’idole qui se refuse renforce son pouvoir. Le mystère génère de l’énergie. La distance alimente la vénération. L’imaginaire de la société russe, de quelque société que ce soit, s’articule sur deux dimensions. L’axe horizontal correspond à la proximité du quotidien, et le vertical à l’autorité.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (pp. 93-94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Le mage du Kremlin: ‘Les Russes jouent avec l’argent’

Les étrangers pensent que les nouveaux Russes sont obsédés par l’argent. Mais ce n’est pas ça. Les Russes jouent avec l’argent. Ils le jettent en l’air comme des confettis. Il est arrivé si vite et si abondamment. Hier il n’y en avait pas. Demain, qui sait ? Autant le claquer tout de suite. Chez vous, l’argent est essentiel, c’est la base de tout. Ici, je vous assure, ce n’est pas comme ça. Seul le privilège compte en Russie, la proximité du pouvoir. Tout le reste est accessoire. C’était comme ça du temps du tsar et pendant les années communistes encore plus. Le système soviétique était fondé sur le statut. L’argent ne comptait pas.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 49). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Certes ce roman, achevé par l’auteur en janvier 2021, éclaire l’actualité géopolitique d’une lumière pénétrante. Mais il lui survivra par son implacable lucidité et son style étincelant.

Le Monde (Macha Séry)

Was 2008 the Breaking Point in the West’s Relationship with Russia?

After [Bill] Clinton and his advisors left office, they could only watch in alarm as Bush’s son, George W. Bush, took the keys to the NATO car and gunned it down that open road. Among other stops, the younger Bush attended the alliance’s summits in 2006 in Latvia, the first such event on former Soviet territory, and in 2008 in Bucharest, where he pushed hard for inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine. For Putin, that Bucharest summit—coming on top of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and his 2007 decision to erect ballistic missile defenses (in the form of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic), all around the time of “color revolutions” in post-Soviet states—proved to be the breaking point.

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 348). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted)

On the Importance of Ukraine in 1991

With roughly 52 million inhabitants at the time, Ukraine was, in population terms, both the second-largest Soviet republic and the size of a major European state; the British and French populations were 57 and 58 million, respectively. 135 Ukraine’s history as an East Slavic and predominantly Orthodox state had long been deeply intertwined with Russia’s. There were millions of ethnic Russians living among, and married to, Ukrainians. If Ukraine decided in its referendum of December 1, 1991 to become fully independent, it would at once commence a painful economic and political divorce from its fellow Slavs and also become a greater nuclear power than either Britain or France. Ukraine’s choices would clearly have such far-reaching effects. From Moscow, [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert S.] Strauss advised Washington that “the most revolutionary event of 1991 for Russia may not be the collapse of Communism, but the loss of something Russians of all political stripes think of as part of their own body politic, and near to the heart at that: Ukraine.”

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 126-127). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).

Netanyahu: Israel Gives Jews the Power to Defend Themselves

The founding of Israel did not stop attacks on the Jews. It merely gave the Jews the power to defend themselves against those attacks.

Netanyahu, Benjamin. Bibi: My Story (p. 652). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

Martin Walker Mysteries

Om Malik recommended a series of mystery books by Martin Walker. Malik said Martin’s “tales of a provincial policeman in the South of France are like a nice glass of chilled wine.”Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine critic, described Mr. Walker’s books as:

rich in atmosphere and personality, with characters bound by the tenacious strictures of history and memory. And almost without fail, everything stops for lunch. It’s impossible to read a Bruno novel without getting hungry and thirsty.

That sounded like a great break from more serious matters.

Martin is a journalist. He divides his time between Washington DC and the Perigord region in the southeast of France.

Martin’s Bruno, Chief of Police series of novels depicts a village policeman named Benoît “Bruno” Courrèges. Bruno is a gourmet cook and former soldier who was wounded on a peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. Bruno loves his region of France. He’s also a compassionate and moral police officer who has a gun but never wears it.

I started with the audiobook version of the first novel in the series entitled Bruno, Chief of Police. This is historical fiction. I learned a lot about the French resistance during WWII (Le Maquis). The descriptions of life and food in rural France are fun and refreshing. The mystery is good. And there is a touch of romance to boot.

There are 13 audiobooks in the series so I am happy to have 12 more audiobooks to mine.

All the books in the series are narrated by Robert Ian Mackenzie, an English actor who did a fine job narrating the first audiobook in the series.

I’m happy that Malik brought this series to my attention through his fine blog. I needed a nice glass of chilled wine.

Resources for Visitors to Paris

Places to Visit


Paris, France: 10 churches you should visit - Lots of detail and wonderful photos

Église Saint-Sulpice - It is only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame and thus the second-largest church in the city. The church is mentioned in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code.

Le Cordon Bleu Paris proposes a range of short term culinary discoveries for those with a passion for the art of cooking: cooking classes, pastry classes and boulangerie workshops.** **These courses can take the form of demonstrations or practical workshops.

Walking Along the Seine

Hôtel de la Marine

Musée Guimet, Musée national des arts asiatiques

Musée Jacquemart-André

Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris

Musée de la Libération de Paris - musée du Général Leclerc - musée Jean Moulin

Rue des Martyrs

Basilique de Saint-Denis - The final resting place of the kings and queens of France. Built on the grave of Saint Denis, a Bishop of Paris who died in 250 AD, the royal abbey of Saint-Denis was, from the death of King Dagobert in 639 AD until the 19th century, the burial place of 43 kings, 32 queens and 10 servants to the monarchy. The basilica was raised to the rank of cathedral in 1966.

Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme - The largest French museum of Jewish art and history

The American Church in Paris, the first American church established outside of the United States.

Musée Nissim de Camondo: A historic house museum of French decorative arts located in the Hôtel Camondo at 63, rue de Monceau, on the edge of Parc Monceau, in the 8th arrondissement. The nearest Métro stops are Villiers and Monceau on Line 2.

Musée Picasso

The Musée de la Vie romantique (Museum of Romantic Life) stands at the foot of Montmartre hill in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, 16 rue Chaptal, in an 1830 hôtel particulier facing two twin-studios, a greenhouse, a small garden, and a paved courtyard. The Museum displays on the first floor numerous mementos of the romantic literary figure George Sand, including family portraits, household possessions, pieces of jewelry and memorabilia including plaster casts by Clésinger of the writer’s sensuous right arm and Chopin’s delicate left hand, plus a number of her own unique and rare watercolors called “dendrites”. On the second floor, the museum displays Romantic canvases, sculptures and objets d’art. The nearest métro stations are Pigalle, Blanche, Saint-Georges, and Liège.

Des Mots et Des Arts (en français) vous propose de découvrir ses visites guidées de Paris. Pour mieux comprendre l’histoire et les transformations urbaines de la capitale, nos guides vous accompagnent dans votre découverte parisienne.

Sarah Donnelly, Stand-Up Comedian in Paris

Domaine National de Saint-Cloud

Canal Saint-Martin

Eiffel Tower viewed from Pont Bir-Hakeim

Tour Montparnasse - Outdoor observation closed April 1, 2023

Paris Walks (in English)

Musée Maillol

Musée Marmottan Monet

Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection

La Galerie Dior

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Bibliothèque nationale de France

Eating in Paris

David Lebovitz, Website by an American pastry chef and author who lives in Paris

Paris by Mouth, Paris restaurant reviews and more

Learning About Paris

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino, former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times

The Seine: The River that Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Join Us in France Podcast

Paris Unlocked

Paris Gone By

Admiring the Trees of Paris, New York Times

Joann Pai - A Little Guide for Those Coming to Paris

The Earful Tower: An Australian-Swedish couple living in Paris share their take on the city

Bonjour Paris - Information for travelers to Paris

Paris with Scott - “Paris, you are . . . the love of my life. And, I want everyone to love you as much as I do.”

Les Frenchies - After 32 years in the US, the Duponts moved to France where Antoine was born. Antoine is rediscovering his homeland and sharing it with his American wife Colleen. They are on a quest to find the best France has to offer.

And finally some visual inspiration.

Last updated: May 13, 2023

Warren Buffett Interviewed by Charlie Rose

In this video, Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is interviewed by Charlie Rose about the company he created, his co-workers friends and his values. Buffett is 91 years old and his mind remains sharp.

During the interview, Buffett recommends a recent book entitled Trillion Dollar Triage: How Jay Powell and the Fed Battled a President and a Pandemic—and Prevented Economic Disaster by Nick Timiraos, the chief economics correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, where he covers the Federal Reserve and U.S. economic policy. I have yet to read the book but it’s on my list of books I want to read.

Netanyahu Recounts Conversation with Bill Clinton After His 1996 Election Victory

In 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the age of 46, became prime minister of Israel. Netanyahu writes that:

Among the first to call and congratulate me on my election victory was President Clinton. “Bibi, I’ve got to hand it to you.” He chuckled. “We did everything we could to bring you down, but you beat us fair and square.”


He wasn’t telling me something I didn’t know, but here was the president of the United States admitting without batting an eyelash to a brazen intervention in another country’s elections. Clinton’s frankness was refreshingly politically incorrect. You could see how the famous Clinton charm carried him through a myriad of minefields. I let it go and said I looked forward to working with him.

Netanyahu, Benjamin. Bibi: My Story (p. 253). Threshold Editions. Kindle Edition.

Books: Volker Ullrich’s Two-Volume Biography of Hitler

Volker Ullrich, a German historian, is the author an excellent two-volume biography of Hitler in German. Jefferson Chase translated both volumes into English.

The first volume Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 (German: Adolf Hitler: Die Jahre des Aufstiegs 1889-1939), published in German in 2013, was published in English in 2016 and covers up to 1939.

The second volume Hitler Vol II: Downfall 1939-45 (German: Adolf Hitler: Die Jahre des Untergangs 1939-1945) was published in English in 2020 and covers the remainder of his biography.

The book became a bestseller in Germany upon its publication.

I am sharing here three quotations showing:

  • The establishment of the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich was well-known as was its sinister purpose;
  • Hitler had broad support in German society at the time in support of his aims; and
  • Without Hitler, there would have been no Holocaust.

In other words, one person can make a big difference, in this case to the world’s detriment.

Reviewing the second volume of Ullrich’s biography of Hitler, Jennifer Szalai, a New York Times book critic said that “the narrative moves swiftly, and it will absorb even those who are familiar with the vast library of Hitler books.” I agree.

At a press conference in Munich on 20 March [1933], Heinrich Himmler announced the establishment of a concentration camp in a former munitions factory near the small city of Dachau. Initially, as a state facility, Dachau was guarded by Bavarian police, but on 11 April the SS assumed command. The Dachau camp became the first cell from which a national system of terror germinated. It was a kind of laboratory, under the direction of the SS, where experiments could be carried out with the forms of violence that would soon be used in the other concentration camps within the Reich. The German media reported extensively about Dachau, and the stories that were told about what went on there acted as a powerful deterrent to opposition to the Nazis. “Dear God, strike me numb / Lest to Dachau I do come” was an oft-repeated saying in the Third Reich.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, Location 9939. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The second volume of this biography covers Hitler’s “years of downfall.” It encompasses the relatively brief period from his unleashing of the Second World War in the summer of 1939 to his suicide in the air-raid bunker of the Reich Chancellery in the spring of 1945. It has been said, correctly, that Hitler and National Socialism “found themselves” in the war. As a magnifying glass does with sunlight, armed conflict focused the criminal dynamics of the Nazi regime and the man at its head. War gave Hitler the opportunity to act on his ideological obsessions and realise his homicidal aims: the conquering of “living space in the east” as a basis for German domination of first Europe, then the world; and the removal of Jews from Germany and, if possible, the whole European continent. On the other hand, as we will see, Hitler would never have been able to realise these goals as much as he did without willing helpers in almost all the institutions of the Nazi state and broad parts of German society.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition (footnote omitted).

Without Hitler, this much is certain, there would have been no Holocaust. His fanatical anti-Semitism was the engine driving genocide. While it may have been difficult to tell sometimes when Hitler was play-acting, the Führer was always deadly serious when he vented his maniacal hatred of Jews.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 611). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Jaron Lanier: Why to Delete Your Social Media Accounts

One of the main reasons to delete your social media accounts is that there isn’t a real choice to move to different social media accounts. Quitting entirely is the only option for change. If you don’t quit, you are not creating the space in which Silicon Valley can act to improve itself.

Lanier, Jaron. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Kindle Locations 308–310). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Lanier is a pioneer in virtual reality, a term he coined. He now works for Microsoft. Lanier knows from the inside how manipulative social media can be.

You can hear Lanier on this Microsoft podcast entitled “Jaron Lanier: Father of Virtual Reality, Renaissance man.”

Book: ‘The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner’

I recently read the second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries:

show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe."1

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.

  1. Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩︎

On the Power of Propaganda

Erna Paris writing in The Globe and Mail:

The core learning future generations must acquire, in addition to the facts of Holocaust history, will be to recognize the impulse to genocide, how and why it starts, the propaganda tools it employs to persuade, and the known consequences of silence and indifference. I think this learning must also include the somewhat rueful acknowledgement that most humans are susceptible to propaganda in various degrees, which is why early-stage vigilance is so crucial.

Erna Paris was born in Toronto in 1938. She is the author of seven works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her book Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada.