In a blue silk dressing-gown royally patterned in gold, the Minister of the Interior sits in his salon watching television. Just for a moment, as his private secretary hurries in to inform him that a terrorist group has kidnapped the American ambassador in Paris, he and his lady, her white hair piled high in a discreet pompadour, are waxwork echoes of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette learning that the mob is at the gates. Seconds later, as a helicopter lands in front of the chateau to whisk the Minister off to deal with the crisis, floodlights illuminate the façade of the building as though it were a monument historique for public delectation.
This superb gloss—the irony, of course, is that...
(The entire section is 448 words.)