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This is the most lighthearted of McPhee s ouevre perhaps his only book where he is so often going for laughs.If you are unfamiliar with John McPhee, this might be a great place to start This is one of his shortest books, and definitely the lightest His choice to explain the Swiss army by hanging around a group of low ranking, poorly performing soldiers turns out to have brilliant, as it gives him ample opportunity to both explain and skewer the institution That said, he comes across as a clear admirer of the Swiss and their approach to foreign policy, which he describes as the porcupine principle roll up and brandish your quills in response to any threat.I should think many of the details of the book are by now out of date, but it s an immensely enjoyable read. Long before the phenomenal success of books like Longitude and Cod , John McPhee perfected the art of the single topic in depth book, in many cases expanding on his trademark long New Yorker essays In La Place de la Concorde Suisse , he digs below the picture postcard prettiness and deceptive blandness of Switzerland and its people to deliver a fascinating and slightly sinister portrait of the Swiss Army One of his most interesting books, written before he gave himself over to the fascination with geology that has inspired many of his recent efforts To say that McPhee writes well is a gross understatement He is the literary father of Malcolm Gladwell, with the same characteristic ability to take an apparently abstruse topic and write about it with extraordinary lucidity, weaving a fascinating story that draws the reader in and holds the attention right to the end If you haven t read any of McPhee s work, this would a good book to start with Other favorites of mine include The Crofter and the Laird , The Headmaster , or either of the collections Giving Good Weight and The John McPhee Reader. When an English friend here in Geneva said he buys up all the copies of this he can find, I broke the habit of a lifetime and asked if I could borrow it I d recently been discovering the ferocious history of the Swiss Army which I guess is one of the factors that still has its influence Another is that the people are the army, the army the people Eye opening for me though I guess it is blindingly obvious if I d ever stopped to think is that neutrality isn t a moral position, it s a function of possibility, at least in the Swiss case Both the people and the landscape of Switzerland bristle with what is needed to defend neutrality I knew that modern buildings here are all built with nuclear bomb shelters, but I had no idea how much of the countryside has massive support structures and escape mechanisms underground, including hospitals I had no idea that it is common for mountains in Switzerland to be effectively hollow inside, with plastic granite blocks fitted into the sides of mountains, camouflaged entries into these secret areas.Rest here I begin to see why The Quiet Man loves John McPhee so much the man is amazing, plain and simple and is fast becoming one of my favorite writers While Encounters With The Arch Druid was a fascinating look at the impact of development on the unspoiled wildernesses of America, La Place de La Concorde Suisse plunges the reader into the fascinating world of Switzerland and their army.When one thinks of Switzerland, you don t really think of it as being an overly militaristic place Dodgy banking regulations, excellent cheese and chocolate, crazy good watches and that fantastically neon currency of theirs, yes but military prowess Military power Not so much.And that s precisely the way the Swiss like it McPhee tags along with a variety of citizen soldiers as all Swiss Citizens have to do stints in the army and explores the origins of the Swiss Army, how it came to be so important and such a vital party of the national fabric of Switzerland and slowly reveals just how expensive and costly an attempt to conquer Switzerland might be for someone.Basically, the Swiss became the best soldiers because they had to be Sitting in the middle of Europe they ve had various hungry empires, Emperors and countries eye them up from time to time so defense of the Cantons that make up the Swiss Confederation became extremely important They quickly developed a reputation as being the best mercenaries in Europe because if you don t have a lot of fighting to do at home, you might as well get lots of practice abroad and the Vatican picked up some Swiss Mercenaries a few centuries back and has kept them go to the Vatican and you ll see the famous Swiss Guards there to this day Interesting bit of legal chicanery I didn t know all Swiss mercenaries apparently had a loophole in their contracts if Switzerland was attacked, they went home automatically to defend it So as many countries came to rely on and use Swiss mercenaries frequently, the idea of attacking the place could kind of screw one over, depending on how many Swiss mercenaries you used The entire Swiss military philosophy has been built around the idea of convincing various power hungry countries that invading Switzerland would be so costly in terms of money and blood that it just isn t worth it The geography helps a lot as who wants to try and get an army through the Alps But the fanatical devotion to the preservation of country and the sheer amount of practice means that the Swiss as a nation are very well trained in as close to live fire conditions as they can manage and have obssessively planned for every possible eventuality It also helps that their entire infrastructure is wired to blow in the event of an invasion from chunks of bridges designed to collapse to rockslides waiting to be triggered to airstrips high in the Alps they re ready for anything.True story my Godparents live in Switzerland not far from Geneva and in their basement is an honest to goodness nuclear fallout shelter All Swiss houses have them and McPhee hints that there are probably whole complexes buried beneath the Alps in case of nuclear war If that happens someday which I hope it doesn t I have no doubt it ll be the Swiss that will be rebuilding civilization Another thing I didn t know Switzerland only appoints Generals in times of grave national Emergency so far, there have been four of them Overall Fascinating, just fascinating a portrait of a country so devoted to preserving it s neutrality and protecting its own that it s one of the most quietly militarized societies on Earth McPhee does it again I felt like I was reading a novel packed to the brim with delicious knowledge cookies McPhee wrote my face off and yes, I do want to read of him If you haven t read this brilliant writer yet, you don t know what you re missing. As a New Yorker staff writer, McPhee s written many classics of long form journalism, which I have been slowly trying to get through over the years Fortunately, one of my customers this summer was married to a man who had just written his PhD thesis on McPhee, and who was looking to unload some trade paperback copies of McPhee s books before moving to a new university, giving me the chance to check a few articles off my list This book is about Switzerland, the Army with a Country, which has hidden guns covering every strategic corner, has every bridge and tunnel rigged to blow up, has massive basses hidden within mountains, and which calls back all citizens, from plumbers in Germany to CEOs in New York, back every year to train Interestingly, while all Swiss are required to keep a gun at home after finishing their time as conscripts, using the guns is strictly forbidden Much of this book piece consists of McPhee walking around Switzerland with a Franchoponic reconnaissance patrol consisting of reservist troublemakers the NCO is a vintner who meant to pull a practice grenade off his superior s tunic, but accidentally left the pin attached to the tunic , who report on the transportation capability of various roads, bridges, and hidden passages In the memorable final scene, the patrol climbs a mountain while reporting on a faux Soviet attack when this book as written, in the 80s, the Warsaw Pact was seen as the only true possible enemy , while stopping for drinks and snacks At the very end, the patrol, which is ostensibly standing in a field, but really drinking in a summit bar the farmers sitting nearby are making mooing sounds , reports the detonation of a petit bombe atomique. John McPhee is my favorite writer, and with this, I ve now read every single one of his books All 31 I can t wait to read them all again. Hysterical, lighthearted, and beautifully written, but If you re like me you ll feel like a lot of the jokes go over your head because they re over your tax bracket. This book was the result of a tour John McPhee made of Switzerland back in the day, following a band of Swiss men on their yearly volunteer service in the Swiss Army It is amazing how much you can learn while being totally entertained by a piece of writing I find that I often learn new facts from the books I read, whether I m aware of it or not the trouble is, with novels, you can never be entirely sure if a presented piece of information is actually true Not so with nonfiction, and especially when it comes to John McPhee On a visit to Switzerland a few years ago I asked a Swiss friend of mine if he knew that many of the bridges in his country were rigged to blow up in the event of an invasion He didn t But I sure did There are many remarkable elements to McPhee s writing One that I think is under appreciated is his humor It is always delivered without drawing attention to itself in a way that makes you wonder if McPhee knows he is being funny of course, though, he always knows Take the following passage Hentsch belongs to one of the most august and ancient private banking families in Geneva On his own, he has become well known for his resourceful development of new accounts He manages portfolios He says that he is like a priest, in that he must know his customers well in order to serve them Less than a week ago, he was in Portland, Maine, buying lobsters Last year, he bought twenty five thousand lobsters, importing them through Zurich into Sweden Of service in the Swiss Army, he says, It belongs to the passport And apropos of nothing at all he adds, We are nice people Not everyone understands that If you didn t crack a smile at that end of that, don t read this book Watch Grey s Anatomy or something. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.Awkward English at best, arguably not even a real sentence, something perhaps emanating from the quill of Henry James, the Second Amendment has proved to be a challenge to those charged with interpreting it and a slippery opportunity for those seeking to exploit it For a couple of hundred years the United States Supreme Court gave full measure to the first thirteen words until rather recently, to achieve the opposite result, it didn t I bring this up not to be provocative or even smarmy but because reading this book reminded me that in the United States we don t have militias any nor and here I am being smarmy the excuse of a militia But in Switzerland in Switzerland the whole country is a militia.By its Constitution and legislation Switzerland is prohibited from invading other countries but everyone all males anyhow must defend its borders At the time of this book, 650,000 men were in the Swiss Army And that s in peacetime Then again, it s always peacetime in Switzerland They give laurels to Generals when there is no war The army trains Officers leave boardrooms soldiers leave their farms, their lathes, their students And they train with live bullets, live bombs There are six hundred thousand assault rifles in Swiss homes.My point being the Second Amendment would make sense in Switzerland where unlike us, forgive the repetition, they have a militia.They have a lot of wine in Switzerland, too, and like their military, they do not export Switzerland produces about a hundred million litres a year, and consumes virtually all of it Moreover, Switzerland imports two thirds of what it drinks Switzerland imports Beaujolais than is imported by the United States.It was interesting learning about Switzerland in the Second World War For instance After France surrendered, the German military attach sought out Jakob Huber, the Swiss chief of the general staff, and made it clear that he felt the time had come for Switzerland to open its doors and welcome a German Europe There was a six decilitre pause Huber studied the attach and said, No one comes through here And this A German plane carrying an experimental package of supersecret radar made an unintentional landing near Zurich, possibly guided by the supersecret radar The Swiss seized the radar and hid it in an alp The Nazis threatened invasion The Swiss offered a deal They brought the radar out of the alp and destroyed it in the presence of German witnesses in return for a dozen fighter planes, on which the iron crosses were painted white.Albert Einstein, by the way, was rejected by the regular army because of varicose veins and flat feet But, he had to serve otherwise, in the Service Compl mentaire.When I read John McPhee I get transported, so that I want to drive a hazmat truck, want to build a canoe out of a tree, want to vacation on a Hebridean island, want to fish for shad I really enjoyed La Place de la Concorde Suisse, learned a lot, was amused, but I have no desire to join the Swiss Army. ^DOWNLOAD ↡ La Place de la Concorde Suisse ✗ Amazing EPub, La Place De La Concorde Suisse By John McPhee This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book La Place De La Concorde Suisse, Essay By John McPhee Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You