Book description

Book info

eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
File size1.3 Mb
GanreNon Fiction
Release date 01.04.1994
Pages count160
Book rating4.59 (496 votes)
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Sometimes, you get a miraculous chance to have your cake and eat it too. My personal high-water mark is Jacques Rivette's La Belle Noiseuse, a French arthouse movie with impeccable credentials that just happened to show Emmanuelle Béart nude for about half of its 228 running minutes. (It's completely justified, given that the story is about the relationship between the artist and his model. Anything else would have been dishonest, don't you see?) But if you're a left-leaning person who also likes guns, this book may go one better. McPhee, an American journalist with a talent for finding good stories, describes a society based on unexceptionable ideals of peace and neutrality, which has pursued them so successfully that it hasn't been involved in a war with another country since 1516. He then spends the book arguing, with considerable plausibility, that Switzerland has only been able to afford such highflown ideals by developing an extraordinarily ferocious part-time militia and arming itself to the teeth.

It's depressing news if you believe in turning the other cheek. But if you're more a believer into doing unto others as they would do unto you but doing it first, you're going to like his message. McPhee has had a fine time as an observer with the Swiss Army, and tells you all about the ingenious ways in which the Swiss have learned to use their country's unusual topography to maximal advantage. The Alps, all on their own, form a brilliant first line of defence; there are only a few ways into Switzerland from most directions, and all the passes, tunnels and bridges are mined so that they can be blown to pieces at the touch of a button. There are supposed to be concealed military facilities everywhere, most of them buried in those same mountains. If we're to believe what he's telling us, your average blank Swiss rock face has at least a couple of camouflaged doors, which can be hiding anything from entrances to subterranean hospitals, to heavy artillery, to state-of-the-art fighter-bombers. And all deployable at a moment's notice.

I admit to a mean-spirited inner voice that's urging me to be skeptical. All of this is supposed to be classified, it says, so maybe his figures are inflated; he seems to have got very friendly with his hosts, and as far as I can see takes everything they tell him at face value. Maybe they thought he'd be a handy conduit for some pro-Swiss propaganda. But I'm ordering Doubting Thomas to keep his mouth shut. A politically correct version of Team America: World Police with better hardware: how can you resist that? I hope every word of it is true.

Circle Limit 2

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