The revolution always eats its own children

History shows plenty of radicals who pushed too hard. We have plenty on today’s world stage

The revolution always eats its own childrenIn the summer and autumn of 1789, the French National Assembly overturned 1,000 years of law and custom to produce a modern constitutional democracy. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen spelled out all the new conditions of civil life: the abolition of feudalism and aristocratic titles, freedom from arbitrary arrest,…

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British union

From the failed Franco-British Union during the Second World War to Brexit, some things are just meant to fail

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British unionIn these contentious Brexit days in the United Kingdom, it’s strange to remember that there was once a plan for a Franco-British Union. No, I’m not making that up. However short-lived, the plan was real. On June 16, 1940, the British cabinet approved a “declaration of indissoluble union” to this effect: “France and Great Britain…

The failure of an American president to compromise

Woodrow Wilson failed to accept the limitations and checks explicit in the American democratic system

The failure of an American president to compromiseWhen the Paris Peace Conference opened on Jan. 18, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson seemed to be at the top of his game. America’s entry had played a critical role in ending the First World War and Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points were acclaimed as the blueprint for a just settlement and a future world where…

Why Canadians should embrace the yellow jacket movement

Some Canadians and French believe that their ‘leaders’ are mere followers of a supra-national agenda, not champions for their electorate

Why Canadians should embrace the yellow jacket movement“Canadians do not need to be liberated,” said Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson half a century ago, after French President Charles De Gaulle lit the fuse for Quebec independence with his famous “Vive la Quebec libre!” speech. But neither of their current counterparts are standing for national freedom, let alone calling for it. President…

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old roots

Charles de Gaulle's view of the English should help inform the conversation about whether the U.K. belongs in Europe

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old rootsWatching the fraught state of Brexit negotiations brought Charles de Gaulle to mind. On Jan. 14, 1963, de Gaulle – in his capacity as president of France – publicly blocked Britain’s entry into what was then known as the common market. “England,” he said, “is an island, sea-going, bound up by its trade, its markets,…

France’s phone hang-up is a conversation starter

Smartphones have undermined everyday social interactions by eroding our ability and desire to talk to one another

France’s phone hang-up is a conversation starterFrench legislators recently passed a law banning children between three and 15 from using smartphones in class. The government of President Emmanuel Macron said the move will help combat an epidemic of screen addiction among France’s children. At first glance, it looks as if the legislation will help to curb screen addiction. Even if it…

Cognac’s global reach keeps spreading

While making inroads in urban American culture and gaining a foothold in China, the industry is also innovating its products

Cognac’s global reach keeps spreadingPart 7 of our series The Business of Cognac According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the industry’s trade association, cognac’s three largest markets are the United States (78.7 million bottles), Singapore (23.6 million bottles) and China (22.6 million bottles). Singapore has the distinction of having the largest per capita consumption of Cognac in the…

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architecture

London’s National Gallery exhibit offers rare glimpses into the artist’s examination of the play of light on human structures

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architectureOne of the great things about being a retired museum and art gallery CEO is that you know most of the basic tricks of the trade. For instance, you can get a very quick gauge of an exhibition’s successes and high points by talking with the gallery security staff. So as soon as we had…

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenon

Export sales drove the development of the industry, a feature as true today as it was three centuries ago

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenonPart 6 of our series The Business of Cognac From the very beginning, the cognac industry was dominated by cognac houses that acted as intermediaries between the producers of eau de vie and their overseas markets. Many of the first cognac houses were founded by English and Irish entrepreneurs: Jean Martell was from Jersey, while…

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusion

Part 5 of the understanding cognac series: The blend is at the heart of cognac and its formulation is the industry’s highest art form

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusionAfter distillation, the new spirit is casked and moved to a warehouse where, depending on its intended use, it may age for a period of a few years to several decades. Generally speaking, cognac is aged in barrels made from oak from either the Tronçais or Limousine forests. The eau de vie is aged in…