Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan is based on a true story that begins with a 17-year-old boy caught in World War II in Italy. In the postscript, the man is 90 years old. He helped Jews get across the Alps to Switzerland to escape the Nazis as a 17-year-old guide, and then became a driver for one of the key German generals and functioned in that role as a spy for the Allied forces.
The book is a reminder that justice often does not prevail, that life is not predictable, that stories can be forgotten and distorted, and that—at the end of the day—it is our contribution to the well-being of others that has merit, meaning, and value. Sullivan’s writing is beautiful, the book flows, and it is difficult to put down. If you want a fabulous read, this is it. Interestingly enough, it has more than 22,000 reviews on Amazon—if you care about that. In other words, I was not the only one taken with this book.
The Road to Ruin by James Rickards is a book about the future of the international monetary system. I am fascinated and concerned by the level of instability in the world today—not just the angst in the USA, but in Great Britain (Brexit), Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, France (yellow jackets), Turkey, etc. Instability always—at its base—is about resources, money being one of them.
Rickards’ credentials are impeccable, and his experience at the world level is wide and deep. For me, one of the most fascinating examples he gives in the book was a visit he made to a wealthy Italian family who has kept the family wealth for 900 years. When he asked a woman in the family how the family had done that, her answer was this—it is simple: One third, one third, and one third. He asked her what the thirds were.
She said to keep your family wealth for 900 years, you must have one third of your assets in land, one third of your assets in gold, and one third of your assets in art. In the book A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (another good read), the “gentleman” is a Russian aristocrat who has been placed under house arrest by the Stalin regime. He is allowed to take some of his furniture with him. He has a desk with hollow legs which are filled with gold coins. It is the gold coins that keep him alive.
If you care about what is happening at the world level and the role of the USA in the world, The Road to Ruin is a thought-provoking read.