Friday, December 16, 2011

French Sketches: Cap Ferrat and Somerset Maugham

My second French Sketch featuring a profile of English novelist Somerset Maugham and his gilded existence living on the French Rivera at Cap Ferrat is not available at Kobo for $.99. Here's the link.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scripps Fine Arts Foundation Lecture

The Fine Arts Foundation of Scripps College listened to Williamson Gallery director Mary McNaughton give an erudite and interesting (a lecture can be both, as rare as that sounds) on "Clay's Tectonic Shift." Professor McNaughton, an art history professor at Scripps, described how ceramics went from a craft to a major art form during the 1950s and 60s under the guidance of Southern California artists John Mason, Ken Price, and Peter Voulkos. Scripps College, an acknowledged leader in promoting ceramics since the 1930s under the dynamic direction of Millard Sheets, was part of this revolution. The lecture was given on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 in the Hampton Room of Malott Commons on the Scripps Campus. The exhibition opens at Williamson Gallery on January 21, 2012 with an Opening on Saturday evening at 7 PM. The exhibition is part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative sponsored by the Getty Trust.

In short, ceramics evolved from pottery towards sculpture, from the beautifully designed utility of practical ceramic pottery to large and increasingly abstract sculptures comprised of fired pieces of clay fitted into large objects.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Sale Amazon Germany

My first sale at Amazon Germany is a French Sketch! All the novels and French Sketches have been selling at Amazon UK and Amazon France in one's and two's. But every little bit helps. This Sketch is about life on Cap Ferrat and the life of Somerset Maugham in the 1920s and 1930s, a beautiful gilded age if you had the gold.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cap Ferrat up at Diesel

Here's a link to ebook store Diesel with my $.99 short now up. French Sketches: Cap Ferrat and Somerset Maugham. I used Maugham as a model for a more lightened-up character named Shelley Moncton in my historical novel "Vienna 1934: Betrayal at the Ballplatz." Maugham lived a very fascinating and colorful life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

There's One in Every Marriage

Theater. On Wednesday night, November 9, students from the Claremont Colleges previewed three scenes from their upcoming theater production of "There's One in Every Marriage," a farce by French playwright Feydeau, that debuts Thursday night November 17 at Seaver Theater on the Pomona College campus.

The presentation was made at a dinner meeting of the Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation in the Hampton Room of Malott Commons. My wife and I had the delight of sitting next to the young lady playing the cocotte in the play for dinner, and I must say she was in delightful form.

The play's producer and director, Professor Leonard Pronko, got off the table's best line: "my fuel is dark chocolate and red wine." Fun evening. Later he gave another of his fascinating little introductory lectures on French farce--they're always about sex in some form. An eternal dramatic interest.Link to Pronko interview

Attached is an interview with Professor Pronko.

Friday, August 5, 2011

French Sketches: Cap Ferrat and Somerset Maugham up at Kindle

Up at Kindle today. Price $.99. This is the second of the French Sketches published. These are short five to ten thousand word travel and cultural portraits of interesting places and people in France. It is also available in all formats at Smashwords.

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads

Finally! "Paris 1935" is up at Kobo ! I use Kobo for books to read on my HTC android telephone. The ePub format works really well. Price $3.99.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads ePub at Goodreads

An ePub edition is up for purchase at Goodreads and I believe the entire book can probably be read on your browser. Don't know whether that is such a hot idea. I hate to call the crazy quilt of ebook sales distribution anything so organized as a "distribution channel!"  Goodreads sales page

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fine Arts - Scripps Luncheon on Sam Maloof

Hal Nelson of the Huntington Library gave a powerpoint preview of the exhibition "The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945-1985" to the Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation in the Hampton Room of Malott Commons on a beautiful spring day on the Scripps Campus (Wednesday, May 11, 2011). The late Sam Maloof is the world renowned furniture maker who lived nearby in Alta Loma with his artist wife Frieda. Both were students under Millard Sheets at Claremont Graduate University and Scripps College in the years after the Second World War when Sheets guided several dozen of that generation's finest young artists into a Golden Age of Art in Southern California. Several of the artists or their family members attended the luncheon, which at 72 persons for lunch was a season-high success.

Nelson's talk was well informed and quite interesting. The Huntington exhibition, which opens September 24, features Maloof's furniture and some of his art plus selected works from 35 other noted artists across several artistic modes, such as ceramics, sculpture, painting, crafts, pottery, weaving. The exhibition provides a stunning mosaic of the art produced in this notable era.

The Fine Arts Foundation will be heading off to view the exhibition by bus on Wednesday October 5 (call Paul Myers 9090-908-2877 for additional info).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fine Arts - Scripps Senior Art Exhibition

My wife Minche and I attended the Scripps College Senior Art Exhibition Opening last Friday night (April 29) at Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery on the Scripps campus. In February, we had toured the student art studios with the Fine Arts Foundation and got previews of the students' ideas for their projects. The quality of the art last Friday was impressive, and, possibly even more so, was the striking originality of many of the young women's artistic vision. You can see imaginations at play!     And the wine and cheese were excellent and the band playing on the terrace was superb: a modern rendition of a sound seemingly coming from the classic 1960s. Fun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Paris 1935" print edition up for sale on Amazon

Paris 1935 Amazon Print Copy

The print edition of "Paris 1935" is up and available for purchase at $10.99 at Amazon. Ebook editions are available at Kindle, Smashwords, and other ebook etailers for $3.99. My production rollout was to do Smashwords first (iPad, Kobo, BN, Diesel, Sony etc thru Smashwords--some of these are still "shipping"), Kindle second, and CreateSpace for print last. (The above cover is the ebook cover; the print cover has a little blurb at the top and a smaller main title). I produced the entire book myself through pdf interior on Word and pdf cover using a Book Cover software program. It took me two iterations to get the print proof correct. The process went surprisingly smoothly. And Kindle is much easier than it was 2 years ago. Smashwords is a dream!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fine Arts - Scripps Scholarship Luncheon

Minche and I attended the annual Scripps College Scholarship Luncheon Friday April 29. The event is always fun as we are usually seated with the young ladies who are recipients of the Fine Arts Foundation's scholarships. This year we met students in studio art (sculpture), art history (getting ready to go to Barcelona and Florence next year!), and a freshman biology major. The student presentations included a discussion of Alzheimer's Research by an aspiring physician/medical researcher, the Mock Trial program for aspiring lawyers, and a beautiful cello duet by two music students. The Alzheimer's research was undertaken while an exchange student at Aix-en-Provence in France; Minche and I spent several days in that beautiful city several years ago.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fine Arts - Trip to Getty Villa

Minche Myers at Getty Villa

Paul Myers at Garden of Getty Villa

On Wednesday April 20, Minche and I went with the Rembrandt Club of Pomona College on their bus trip to Getty Villa at Malibu. We saw the exhibition of "In Search of Biblical Lands" featuring 19th century photographs of the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem, curated by Kathleen Stewart Howe of Pomona College. The Holy Land became the first big international tourist destination in the 19th century, partially as a result of extensive photography of the region. The British in particular explored and mapped the region prior to World War I, and this work served as a basis for drawing borders up after the war and laid the basis for the way the Middle East is today. The museum itself is always a treat. Minche and I spent several hours exploring the exhibitions of Greek and Roman art. Then we had a delightful lunch on the upstairs veranda overlooking the museum and the valley it is nestled in with its vistas of the Pacific ocean in the distance. The bus ride back through rush-hour Los Angeles to Claremont was made pleasurable by the Rembrandt ladies pouring generous libations of red or white wine and passing out snacks. Nice museum trip.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fine Arts - Ceramics Center at Scripps College

It was my pleasure to attend a beautiful luncheon on Tuesday April 12 held on the patio of the Scripps Art Department as part of the dedication of the new Joan and David Lincoln Ceramics Center facing the Art Department quadrangle. I and several board members of the Fine Arts Foundation ate lunch with several of the art faculty. After the dedication speeches--Joan Lincoln's was especially charming--we all took a tour of the new ceramics facility. I was fascinated by the kilns because they are very serious looking industrial-strength machines. Inside, there is an extensive work area featuring potters wheels for shaping the "mud" and other work areas for finishing and sculpting the pieces. The facility will be used by both Scripps and Claremont Graduate University, which are two of the leading academic ceramics programs in the nation.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fine Arts - Scripps Dance Concert 2

Minche Myers at Garrison Theater
Reception at Garrison Theater

 My wife Minche standing in front of one of the beautiful tapestries in the lobby of Garrison Theater at Scripps College after she had completing some of her work on the refreshments for the Wednesday April 13 Preview Performance by Scripps Dance of its Spring 2011 Dance Concert. Connie Layne and Corinne Gallman had earlier assisted. The second picture is after the Preview when Fine Arts Foundation members, several of the dance students, and others gathered for refreshments and talk. A very fine afternoon.

Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads

My interview at Kindle Book Authors on historical novel "Paris 1935: Destiny's Crossroads." Kindle Author Interview

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fine Arts - Scripps Dance Concert

Wednesday April 13. Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation sponsored a one-hour preview of the Scripps Spring Dance Concert at Garrison Theater Wednesday afternoon. Dance Professor Ronnie Brosterman introduced each student dance piece starting off with several solos and then moving on to group ensembles. After the last dance, the students sat on the stage and took questions from the audience on dance, life at Scripps, and their future plans. Professor Brosterman explained that dance was the use of the body moving through space to give expression to emotions and feelings. Costume and lighting often significantly enhance the visuals. She also explained that it is a physically demanding art form. Another key point she made was that in a professional dance troupe your body belongs to someone else while at Scripps Dance your body belongs to you--a very nice distinction.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fine Arts - Pacific Standard Time cocktail party in Claremont - Fun!

Peggy Carlson Vice President of Rembrandt Club

Ellen Litney President of Rembrandt Club
The Rembrandt Club of Pomona College hosted a cocktail reception at a beautiful home in north Claremont last Saturday afternoon where over two hundred art supporters gathered. The subject was the Getty Foundation's project "Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980." Getty is supporting over 60 cultural institutions across Southern California with $10 million in grants to put on exhibitions starting next September and running through mid-2012. Joan Weinstein, the Getty director, provided an overview while Kathleen Stewrt Howe of Pomona College Museum of Art, Mary MacNaughton of Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, and Rebecca McGrew, Pomona Museum curator spoke on exhibitions being hosted by the local college museums.

Our own Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation (where I am co-president) is hosting a luncheon May 11 where representatives of the Huntington Library will discuss their PST exhibition opening in September entitled "Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley." Scripps College was of course right in the thick of things in that Golden Age.

The overall goal of the Pacific Standard Time initiative is the truly laudable one that shows that Los Angeles and not New York was really the Big Fish in art after the Second World War. New York was, sniff, sniff, somewhat derivative of Picasso and Matisse and the Paris School while Los Angeles was more vibrant, truly original, and much more diverse. Hear, Hear!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fine Arts - A Walking Tour of Downtown Los Angeles

Wife Minche with Claremont tour group Bradbury House.
Walking Tour of Downtown Los Angeles by Claremont Foundation. Bob Herman, a retired Pomona College professor, led a group of about a dozen of us on a train ride on Metrolink down to Union Station on Saturday March 19. We visited the square in front of Olvera Street and then went up and went through the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The exterior edifice lacks elegance in my view but its contemporary art boxiness makes a strikingly beautiful interior possible, which makes a nice trade. We did admire the statue above the entrance of Our Lady, which is simple, elegant, and quite beautiful. The interior of the cathedral is beautiful to behold, quite original, and I simply loved the tapesties on the wall. The had an exceptional refinement and were made possible using modern computer-driven tapestry techniques in Belgium. The people portrayed in the tapesties were "everyman" and "everywomen" selected from across the Southern California multicultural landscape.

The pictures are from the inside lobby of the Bradbury House on South Broadway. The building was constructed in 1893 and has been completely renovated. The lobby is simply beautiful to behold and to stand in. Very interesting and it has a fascinating story.

We had lunch in the Grand Central Market, virtually all Hispanic. We had delicious Persian food made by a very talented Hispanic family!

Other stops on the tour were the Biltmore Hotel, the Los Angeles Central Library, and the lobby of the Fine Arts Building, another artistic masterpiece of architecture. Then we took the subway back to Union Station and the Metrolink back to Claremont. We are going to do this trip some more. There is a lot to downtown Los Angeles.
Lobby Bradbury House 1893 Downtown LA

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fine Arts - Rembrandt Club Arts Lecture

Seaver House - Pomona College

On Thursday March 3, 2011, members of Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation were guests of the Rembrandt Club at beautiful Seaver House at Pomona College for tea and refreshments. The tea followed an informative lecture on a new exhibition just opening at Getty Villa in Malibu entitled "In Search of Biblical Lands: from Jerusalem to Jordan in Nineteenth Century Photography." The lecture was given by Pomona Art History Professor Kathleen Howe who was the guest curator of the exhibit for the Getty. Professor Howe had a fascinating collection of photographs and discussed the irony between intense worldwide interest in the Holy Land in the nineteenth century with the stony, arid landscape of Palestine and the primitive and impoverished city of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the photographs of the time stirred intense interest and tourists from around the world flooded into the Holy Land in one of the first occurrences of mass tourism.

More information is at the Getty Villa website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fine Arts - Visit to Scripps College Senior Art Studios

The Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation had more than 30 members visit the Senior Art Studios at the Art Department on the afternoon of Feb 14, 2011. Treasurer Mike Layne handed out checks for seven expense grants to those students participating. Professors Susan Rankeitas (the blond lady in the center of the following picture) and Ken Gonzales-Day guided the members through the galleries while Professor Nancy Macko was in the studios explaining and greeting. We saw a preview of an animation project by student Isabel Anderson in the animation studio (she is kneeling in front of Professor Rankeitas). Other students were Candace Kita, Shayna Friedman, Sarah Dick, Jordan Mopstein, Suzanne Calkins, Bailey Busch.

The tour consisted of a lot of ladies speaking with and having the various projects explained to them by the students. So it was a very nice afternoon of pleasant interaction and seeing these vivid young imaginations at the work of play, or the play of work.

Also shown below are simply some snapshots of some of the art hanging on the studio walls picked out of my photos of the day for their colorfulness and aesthetics. At the bottom is a very interesting use of cutouts placed in a vacant studio space. Two of our members are standing inside.

After the studio tour, we all met out on the balcony of the Art Department and had delicious cupcakes, cookies, and coffee and bottled water prepared by our Refreshment Committee of Minche Myers and Joyce Lamphere and ably assisted by Jeri of the Art Department office. The students and professors joined us for a pleasant interlude of talk. Professor Day got the Williamson Gallery to open up and many of our members went and saw the Ceramics Annual, the national recognized show currently "up" at the Gallery.

We look forward to visiting the exhibition of Senior Art projects in May at the end of the school year. My personal observation is this has been our most successful interaction with the Senior Art students over the past half dozen years.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review - A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York by Andre Schiffrin

This is a charming memoir by Andre Schiffrin, long-time publisher at Pantheon Books and later The New Press, published in 2007. For me, the memoir breaks down into two parts: the childhood story of leaving France in 1940 and coming to New York and growing up. The second part is Schriffin's intellectual development in America into a strong social democratic and Leftist political intellectual. I will take up the second part in a later blog.

Schiffrin was born in Paris in 1935 to a Russian emigre father and French mother. The father's family had been wealthy oilmen in Baku but the family fortune was swept away in the Russian Revolution of 1917. The father came to Paris and became a successful publisher and then editor at the prestigious Gallimard publishing house, apparently on the recommendation of Andre Gide. The father escorted Andre Gide, the preeminent man of French letters in the 1930s, on his famous trip to Russia in 1936. This was the trip that led to Gide's break with Communism, a much commented upon literary event. Gide did go on to work heart and soul to support the Spanish Republicans in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

With the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, the elder Schiffrin was dismissed because of his Jewish background in August 1940. This began a one-year odyssey for the Schiffrin family to the south of France where they came under sponsorship of Varian Fry, the famous American who was organizing the flight of Jewish and other endangered European artists and intellectuals out of France. The sponsorship was prompted by Gide's intervention, who sort of hovered over the Schiffrin family as a guardian angel for a large number of years. The family followed the refugee trail to Marseilles, Casablance, Lisbon and finally New York, arriving in August 1941. At critical junctures, Gide had provided support and money.

In 1948, and age 13, young Andre was sent back to France for a long stay. He stayed in Paris and later spent a lot of time in the south of France living in the Gide household. Schiffrin here reflects on the effects of the German occupation and the poverty of post-war France. His father never was able to return to his beloved Paris, mostly due to declining health. But also the exiles were not really wanted back. Jean Paul Sartre, who visited the Schiffrin family in New York in 1945, observed that most had been "forgotten." Andre visited the Gallimard publishing operations and Gaston Gallimard's grand apartment in the Palais Royale, but there is a lingering distaste that his father had not been invited back after the war. Schiffrin observes that the history of publishing during the Occupation was a "complicated one."

Schiffrin returned from France, continued on to Yale and then two delightful years at Cambridge University in England. He returned to a career in progressive politics and publishing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Third Republic Lives - French ministers accept free travel

I thought I had great material for kicking off a new thread - The Third Republic Lives! Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie have admitted taking some "free" travel and lodging to visit Tunisia and Egypt. This would have been keeping in the rich tradition of canoodling of the great Third Republic politicos as they careened towards total defeat in the 1930s.

Alas! I read the article in today's New York Times and all the "free" travel turned out to be sensible precautions and measures that a visiting minister should employ when visiting a foreign country. There are security concerns and these were pretty standard practices. Supposedly these were "embarassments." Looked sort of sensible to me.

Saved! Rather than not having a story here, President Sarkozy entered the fray and said henceforth ministers would stay in France for vacations. This is genuinely stupid. Ministers should be encouraged to go visit the world, particularly around the Mediterranean where two great cultures meet. I couldn't help thinking what Charles de Gaulle's response might have been, such as sticking the grand nose high up into the air and saying, "The state travels where it will." So, Sarko has once again come across as a pogo stick!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fine Arts Foundation - Visit to John Svenson some photos

Photos from our visit to artist John Svenson's home and studio yesterday. At the top, my wife Minche stands next to "Deep Sea Madonna." In the next photo, Paul stands next to "Sea Sprite," another of John's impressive sculptures in wood. At the bottom, Paul and Minche are with John Svenson in front of a relief carved into redwood of an octopus.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fine Arts - A visit to John Svenson' house by Scripps Fine Arts Foundation

Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation. We had 35 members and guests for a tour of artist John Svenson's home and studio today Saturday Jan 29, 2011. We raised more than $1,000 for our Senior Art Grants program, which will be awarded to the students on Monday, February 14 during our visit to the Lang Arts Studios at the Scripps College Art Building. Seven senior art students are slated for grants. The tour was followed by a buffet lunch served on John's beautiful patio in brilliant California sunshine in San Antonio Heights overlooking Upland. Minche Myers, Connie Layne, and Marci Stewart put on a beautiful spread of salads, sandwichs, chips and salsas, desserts, coffee, fruit salads and a beauitful cheese plate. The artist's son David and his wife, sculptor Reese Williams, and the mother-daughter team of Norma and Cindy provided docent talks on John's magnificent collection of art that he and his late wife collected from around the world plus his many own original works. The singular striking thing about John's work is its originality: it is rare in my experience for so many pieces of art to just get inside your head and heart and imagination the way John's work does.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review - "Lords of Finance" by Liaquat Ahamed

This is a fascinating look at the personalities and beliefs of the top central bankers of the US, Britain, France, and Germany from before World War I through the Great Crash and the Great Depression beyond. The personalities shaped the beliefs upon which these bankers acted and more importantly the huge blind spots in their thinking that caused these men to be unable to master the complexities and fundamentals of the Great Depression. Many of their erroneous beliefs have re-surfaced in the modern Republican party's rants against the stimulus and its primitive need to go back to "the ol' time religion" of budget balancing in the face of depressed demand. So the morality tale is hugely relevant to today's economic debate.

The voice of reason out in the wilderness to this tale is that of John Maynard Keynes, who by the end of the book has risen to worldwide preeminence and is a major architect of the worldwide prosperity that followed World War II, the prosperity from which we have all enormously benefitted.

A profile of Keynes early in the book describes his position as one of the most influential figures in the British Treasury during and after World War I. There is a fascinating summary of his thinking: "As the war dragged on, he himself became increasingly disillusioned with its terrible waste, the relentless loss of lives, the refusal of the politicians to contemplate a negotiated settlement, and the steady erosion of Britain's financial standing."

I am utterly fascinated by the wisdom of the Western leaders throwing away the opportunity to negotiate a settlement with Germany in 1916 or 1917 or even early 1918. Keynes made a hugely wise observation about one of history's great missed opportunities. A negotiated peace would have meant that a new equilibrium could have been established. Kaiser's Germany was not Hitler's Germany. A lot of lost lives could have been saved. The Second World War could have been avoided because its underlying driving forces would simply have not been present. That is because World War II did not become some inevitability at Munich in 1938 but rather it became an inevitability in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference with its Treaty of Versailles. Keynes miraculously prophesied the coming of the Second World War in his book "The Economic Consequences of the Peace," which came out in November 1919.

This will be a book I will blog about again in the future, particularly the rise of French central banker Emile Moreau. And we will come back to Keynes acidic portraits of the Allied leaders meeing in Paris in 1919.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fine Arts - A visit to John Svenson's house

Yesterday, I and several other board members of the Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation went up to sculptor John Svenson's house in beautiful San Antonio Heights overlooking Upland. Above is a view from his patio towards Cucamonga Peak. We are planning an open studio tour and buffet lunch for the last Saturday of January. Details to be announced later.

It is always nice to see John, one of the colorful characters from the Claremont Golden Age of Art after the Second World War and that runs up to the present. He and his wife built the house and it is simply loaded with charm. Besides many examples of his own art, he has a fascinating collection of artifacts from ancient Peru, the Far East, Alaska, and Europe. He and his wife travelled the world.

What makes visiting the house so unique is that the tremendous originality and uniqueness of his art sort of bowls you over. To sit and take tea in that magnificent living room is to sit in the middle of a visual feast. This "ain't visiting the museum."

I also got a copy of John's new book, a beautiful story of his life and his art spanning the eight decades or so of his life. This is also one of the best art books by one of the art greats of Claremont.

Attached link to a recent exhibition of John's gives a good view of some of John's distinctive works over the years.

John Svenson exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review - "Fireworks at Dusk: Paris in the Thirties" by Olivier Bernier

This book, published in 1993, by art critic and French historian Olivier Bernier is a superb mix of the cultural and political history of France and life in Paris during the 1930s. This was when Parisian culture was burning at its brightest just before its extinguishment in the crushing German defeat of June 1940. For someone like me writing novels set in Paris in the 1930s, the book is gold dust. The entire cavalcade of artists, writers, dress designers, and aristocratic celebrities is portrayed in their comedy of manners with the doomed politicians of the Third Republic, an entire glittering society is sleepwalking to its rendezvous with defeat.

Bernier has a great command of the material and is not afraid to express judgements. President Lebrun is a hopeless mediocrity; Edouard Herriott, the great Radical Socialist politician, is hopelessly inept at the central economic questions facing France during the Depression, Edouard Daladier is fatally indecisive in the face of the big questions facing France at the end of the 1930s. The profiles are highlighted with colorful anecdotes involving women that are not these politicians' wives! Paris was one of the first capitals where political and cultural celebrity intersected.

Sharp profiles of the cultural personalities are also made with Bernier's great self-assurance as a critic. Jean Cocteau's limitations are described as "the curse was an irradicable frivolity" and that he "led a life of relentless chic." He comes across as an earlier version of Truman Capote. Interestingly, Bernier takes dead-eye aim at Andre Malraux, describing him as "a living paradox" and attributing his cultural presence "to his extraordinary eloquence. In a city of talkers, Malraux was famous for the brilliance and uninterruptible abundance of his conversation." He sums him up, "Malraux knew how to dazzle; but behind the torrent of glittering words, the thought was often simplistic or plain silly--his later books on art offer abundant proof of that." Ouch! Bernier gives Malraux credit for his novels of political involvement that went far to define the cultural melieu of the 1930s.

The book is an excellent companion to Alan Riding's book about Paris under the German Occupation "And The Show Went On."  Both books will be subject to further blog essays because the relevance of the themes they deal with are so germane to understanding the 1930s and today. Superbly executed, fascinating to read.