Categories
Statistics

Gross Debt – Selected Countries

CountryGross Debt
as a % of GDP
Japan266
Italy162
United States131
France119
Canada115
United Kingdom108
Germany73
China (PRC)62
Switzerland49
Russian Federation19

SourceIMF October 2020

Categories
Audiobooks

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 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

Categories
Music

Remembering Michel LeGrand

Ever since I was a boy, my ambition has been to live completely surrounded by music. My dream is not to miss out anything. That’s why I’ve never settled on one musical discipline. I love playing, conducting, singing and writing, and in all styles. So I turn my hand to everything – not just a bit of everything. Quite the opposite. I do all these activities at once, seriously, sincerely and with deep commitment.

Michel LeGrand

Michel LeGrand (1932-2019) wrote the scores for more than 250 films including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) starring Catherine Deneuve and Yentl (1983), a creation of Barbra Streisand.

He recorded more than 100 albums, with Maurice Chevalier, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne among others. Many performers covered his music including Frank Sinatra and Sting.

It’s remarkable that one person could create so much beauty.

The Guardian Obituary

Categories
Music

Bing Crosby Singing in French

Bing Crosby (1903-1977) sings mainly in French about Paris in this wonderful album. Crosby recorded the album in Paris on May 16, 1953. The orchestrations were by Paul Durand (1907-1977) who wrote Je suis seule ce soir which is in the soundtrack of Midnight in Paris. Crosby’s accent isn’t great but it really doesn’t matter. The love comes through.

Apple Music

Categories
History

Daniel Cordier, French Resistance Hero (1920 – 2020)

Alan Cowell writing in The New York Times:

[Cordier] had been shocked to see German soldiers photographing one another at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. But as he headed toward a covert encounter with a fellow operative at a cafe on the Champs Élysées, he was even more stunned to see an old Jewish man and a child with yellow stars on their overcoats.

“The shock of this vision plunges me into an unbearable shame,” he wrote in the memoir, “Alias Caracalla.”

At first he wanted to rush up to the people he saw and embrace them to seek forgiveness, he wrote. At that moment, though, he recognized, walking toward him, the operative he was scheduled to meet. It was an epiphany: “His presence leads me back to reality: I am not in Paris to care for my conscience.”

Categories
Audiobooks History

‘The Liberation of Paris’

The Liberation of Paris is a gripping book that is packed full of interesting details about Nazi-occupied Paris and its last commander Dietrich von Choltitz.

Dietrich v. Choltitz – Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R63712 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler ordered Choltitz to hold Paris, but if that wasn’t possible, to destroy it. Although General Choltitz had been very loyal to Hitler, he could not bring himself to obliterate the City of Light. He ultimately surrendered Paris to French forces on August 25, 1944. He’s been called the “Saviour of Paris” for preventing its destruction.

After his surrender, Choltitz was held for the remainder of the war in London and the United States and was ultimately released from captivity in 1947. He died in Baden-Baden in 1966.

The author of this exceptional book was the distinguished political scientist and biographer Jean Edward Smith. Smith’s work includes highly regarded biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He died on September 1, 2019 at the age of 86.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Fred Sanders, who has narrated many fine audiobooks including Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.