Graphic novels and comics

A Graphic Novel: La disparition de Josef Mengele

The graphic novel "La disparition de Josef Mengele"
The graphic novel “La disparition de Josef Mengele”

This new graphic novel is based on the non-fiction novel “The Disappearance of Josef Mengele” which was translated into 25 languages.

The graphic novel “La disparition de Josef Mengele” is a wonderful surprise for me, both in terms of the scenario and the graphics. Anyone interested in true stories will devour this book as it represents a goldmine of astonishing information on the life, or rather the survival, of the Nazi criminal in Latin America.

Who provides him with the money he needs? How does he protect himself? Does he lead the existence of a pasha? How does he behave abroad? Does his thinking on race show any sign of evolution, or is it still sclerotic? Why does Argentina encourage the arrival of these fugitive assassins?

For the general public, there are two categories of National Socialist    criminals: the first concerns the names that received most media coverage at the Nuremberg Tribunal. The second involves Nazi criminals who fled abroad, thanks to political or family support. Josef Mengele belongs to both groups. He is holed up in Latin America and knows that several organizations are seriously looking for him, including Mossad.

How does he remain roaming for so long? It soon becomes clear that the Mossad is not only concentrating on Nazi criminals on the run. The book introduces us to some other priorities for the agency, one of which is very urgent: the elimination of former German scientists working in Egypt to create radioactive waste weapons designed to destroy Israel. The secret services must choose between Mengele, a past threat, or a more immediate danger. With limited resources, they have to adjust and deal with the most pressing situation.

Nazis were integrated into the new German government.

There is, however, a third category that the public has heard very little about, and which is also discussed in the graphic novel: these are Nazis who rejoined the new German government a few years after the end of the Second World War.

Indeed, the Allied powers of the time – the USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union – administered the occupation zones of the German territory after the Second World War. But tensions between East and West grew rapidly. Each side accused the other of imperialist or communist expansionism.

To offer a better-organized resistance to the Soviet Union, Germany’s autonomy had to be quickly restored. The former Nazis had experience of governance that was immediately available.

If the Allies adopted the clear-cut position of preventing the Nazis from attaining essential functions in the public apparatus of the future Bonn Republic, then people with little or no knowledge had to be trained to carry out the more complex tasks. Time was short, as was the will to bring all possible war criminals to justice.

So, many Nazis found work in government agencies. One thing led to another, and some of these former Nazis recycled as government agents became part of the inner circle protecting the most prominent war criminals who had fled abroad. Josef Mengele benefited from this high-level support.

But several additional Germans, also in high places, acted in the opposite direction, striving to flush out the biggest criminals, at the risk of their own health and safety. One such person is introduced in the book: Fritz Bauer. This man contacted Mossad with information that eventually help to capture Adolf Eichmann. The latter went on trial in Israel and sentenced to hanging.

Eichmann and Mengele meet each other.
Eichmann and Mengele meet each other.

Mengele reads the newspapers and suspects that his end will resemble that of Eichmann. The graphic novel shows him as a hunted animal, talking to himself. His racist, backward-looking words drive away the individuals who could support him most in the last years of his life. He withered slowly and died on a beach in Brazil. But it was not officially known until 1985.

The book covers a period of several decades. It features a brief summary of Mengele’s actions as a doctor at Auschwitz. He is not alone, even if he remains very high-profile to the general public. A large number of scientific assistants carried out experiments on humans, including one who became rector of the University of Münster after the end of the Second World War.

The authors mention in passing the idea of a Fourth Reich pursued by Mengele and his ilk. In short, readers won’t get bored with this skilfully constructed graphic novel.

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Title: La disparition de Josef Mengele

Authors: Olivier Guez and Matz-Jörg Mailliet

Edition : Les Arènes, Paris, 2022

ISBN : 979-10-375-0714-3

Graphic novels and comics

Warbirds : B-25 Mitchell : Tonnerre sur Tokyo

Warbirds: B-25 Mitchell - Tonnerre sur Tokyo
Warbirds: B-25 Mitchell – Tonnerre sur Tokyo

This comic book, published in 2023, is the third in the Warbirds series, published by Editions Soleil.

On April 18, 1942, a few months after the Pearl Harbor raid, sixteen B-25B Mitchell bombers took off from the new Hornet aircraft carrier for a surprise attack on five Japanese cities. The mission was known as the “Doolittle Raid“.

These machines, which were not designed to operate from an aircraft carrier, would not be able to reach their targets and return safely to port for lack of sufficient fuel. All the pilots were well aware of this, and volunteered.

The fleet of sixteen aircraft, commanded by Jimmy Doolittle, successfully achieved its objective of confusing the enemy and showing that Japan remained vulnerable to surprise attacks. The Japanese wondered how it was possible that American bombers could have reached and hit their country. Where did they take off from? They know that the B-25 Mitchells were not designed to take off from an aircraft carrier, and that they were incapable of landing on one.

The genius of the operation laid in the combination of a number of highly risky decisions which, taken together, took the enemy by surprise. Firstly, as it was impossible to land the planes on the Hornet, they were installed with a crane, knowing full well that they would never return to the ship.

In addition, the captains were trained to take off over distances unthinkable for them, using a technique pushed to the extreme. The ship sailed at high speed into the wind, improving the headwind component so essential for such perilous maneuvers.

The pilots had to be extremely skilful to keep to the departure trajectory on a platform that moved from left to right in the middle of a storm. Buildings on the Hornet’s side had to be avoided at all costs, and the available gap between the wing tip and the ship’s tower was no more than two meters. Despite all the obstacles, all the B-25s managed to take off. It was to be a one-way mission to Japan.

Doolittle piloted the first B-25 to take off from the carrier. He had only a very small portion of the deck to work with, as there were still fifteen other bombers waiting their turn to take off. The second pilot to leave the deck narrowly avoided a water landing, as the aircraft sank slightly and a landing gear wheel touched the water. But the plane gained just enough speed to stay airborne.

Bombers and crews suffered different fates once the bombing raids on Japanese targets had been completed. The authors conclude: “The raid destroyed 112 buildings and killed 87 people, in about 6 minutes. […] The destruction of 15 of the 16 B-25s, unable to reach Chinese airfields for landing, was nevertheless to be deplored, the 16th B-25 having landed safely in the USSR.  Also to be deplored was the accidental death of three airmen (planes 3 and 6) and the capture of 8 others (planes 6 and 16) by the Japanese, 4 of whom never returned home, 3 having been executed as “war criminals” and the 4th having died in captivity. Worse still, the Japanese took revenge on the Chinese, who had helped all the surviving airmen, by organizing the massacre of some 250,000 civilians in the Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces then under their control. This was to leave its mark…”.

Landing and takeoff tests on an aircraft carrier, the Forrestal, were also made decades later for a C-130 Hercules. I tried to repeat the experience in flight simulation. The flight can be found in the “challenging virtual flights” section of my blog. As the Forrestal is not available in virtual mode, I used the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.

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Title: Warbirds: B-25 Mitchell: Tonnerre sur Tokyo

Authors: Richard D. Nolane and Vladimir Aleksic

Edition : Soleil/D. Nolane/Aleksic

ISBN : 978-2-302-09745-2

© 2023

Photos of Canada Photos of Quebec

The old cartridge factory in Quebec City

Old cartridge factory in Quebec City
Old cartridge factory in Quebec City

The great economic crisis of 1929 affected many wealthy families in Quebec City. A decade later, at the time of the Second World War, it was again possible to get rich thanks to the ammunition industry.

The black and white photo above shows the old cartridge factory still standing in Quebec City. In the foreground, an advertisement reminds us that “a picture is worth a thousand words…”. A happy coincidence!

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Vladimir Putin and Germany

Vladimir Putin‘s war against Ukraine has finally had an unexpected effect: Germany has woken up to its national security and its responsibility to NATO. The Germans have announced that they will now invest massively to equip themselves with military forces worthy of the name. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken of spending around 100 billion euros over the next few years.

Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine has certainly brought back old memories in Germany. With Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Hitler had attacked Russia by surprise, despite having given his word, resulting in the biggest battle of all time. Millions of people died in this one conflict.

A non-aggression agreement between two countries remains valid only until one of the two partners changes his mind. That is as good as it gets. The Germans showed this to Russia in 1941.

With Russia invading a free country like Ukraine, Germany has realized that it cannot take anything for granted anymore. Today the country is in a vulnerable position and needs to increase its autonomy in the face of a potential attack, especially since most NATO members do not take seriously their responsibility towards military spending.

Moreover, it can no longer really count on the intervention of the United States. American foreign policy and its vision of NATO are now likely to change every four years, depending on whether Trump or one of his allies is elected. This is nothing to secure Europe. Putin put an end to daydreaming.


“Papa” by Régis Jauffret

The novel "Papa" by Régis Jauffret.
The novel “Papa” by Régis Jauffret.

Both Sorj Chalandon, in his novel “Enfant de salaud”, and Régis Jauffret in “Papa” try to grasp the enigmatic personality of their father. Sorj Chalandon’s father is said to have been a Resistance fighter and a traitor at the same time, while Régis Jauffret’s father is said to have been filmed coming out of a Gestapo interrogation session, terror on his face. Where does the truth lie? Who are these fathers really?

In a previous text, I presented the book “Enfant de salaud”. Now it’s the turn of the novel “Papa” by Régis Jauffret.

As one might expect with Régis Jauffret, the writing style differs radically. The author is the winner of the Goncourt short story prize (2018) for his novel “Microfictions 2018”. His sense of synthesis, black humour and even cynicism makes this return to the father’s past a literary as well as historical adventure. The reader quickly understands that the author takes pleasure in presenting his discoveries. He even adds a bit of fiction when necessary.

True to my habit when it comes to Régis Jauffret, I will present his book through selected quotes. Indeed, the interest of the book lies as much in the content as in the way Régis expresses himself to enlighten his subject. Here are a few quotes (translated as best as possible) that may help to grasp the tone of the book:

I took communion.

Someone pointed out to me on the way out that I wasn’t a believer.

   – That’s right, a wafer or chips.

      I smiled, but after this blasphemy I was not very happy. When you have been educated religiously, you always keep the terror of God in the back of your mind”

“He had just had a stroke which, far from handicapping him, seemed to have cheered him up”.

“She told me that the moisture had blown away the veneer [of the coffin]. All that was left was a box of blackened boards. I wasn’t in a good enough mood to call the funeral home lady to invoke the eternal guarantee that such metaphysical products undoubtedly enjoy”.

“One of those happy memories that make you feel good that you never went to a gun shop to buy something to shoot yourself in the head”.

“Alfred was instructed to clench his teeth during coitus without sighing, while she remained as stoic as when the dentist teased one of her molars with the tip of his drill without anesthesia”.

“Through the vast copper bell of a gramophone perched on a pedestal whose statue had been stolen, Édith Piaf shouted ‘J’ai dansé avec l’amour’ (I danced with love) while the cries of the martyrs rose from the basement”.

“Writing about oneself is a form of incontinence”.

“We are condescending to deaf people without status or talent, but we prefer to deal with them sparingly. When you haven’t seen them soon enough to have hidden behind a construction machine or a bulky man, you greet them from afar as you walk away”.

“If I had not seen these images, you would have remained in the sewers of my memory”.

“If I last as long as Madeleine, I will be a centenarian who will unexpectedly ruminate on his father in his dried-up brain like a currant while an orderly built like a colossus swings my emaciated body in the air to change my diaper”.

“Pitiful descendant of protozoa that have become multicellular beings with brains, humanity has no reason to show off”.

“It is heroic in times of war to assume the role of the executioner, even if it means being wrong sometimes, because in extreme situations doubt never benefits the accused”.

“He talked from morning to night. Anyone he met on the street was showered with language like a careless person on a pier on a stormy day by a surge of water. In his office, everyone was soaked. So much so that people ran away from him, but he always managed to find someone who was kind enough to let himself be flooded”.

“I never heard him talk about his day either. The weather had been fine, it had snowed, it had rained, a chamois had crossed the trail in a tail, a man hit by a storm had burst into flames, a lady had fallen into a crevasse while singing a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach”.

“During this time, Jean-Jacques and Honoré undertook the sisters red as blue meat to find themselves in the presence of two boys whose pants in the fashion of the time moulded the genital apparatus of which they dreaded in advance the sting”.

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Title : Papa

Author : Régis Jauffret

Editions : Roman/Seuil, 2020.

ISBN : 978-2-02-145035-4

Novels War

Enfant de salaud

Novel "Enfand de salaud" by Sorj Chalandon
Novel “Enfand de salaud” by Sorj Chalandon

Enfant de salaud” means “Bastard’s child” in English. Author Sorj Chalandon is a journalist and worked for decades for the French newspapers Liberation and Canard Enchaîné. During his career, he received numerous awards: Albert-Londres (1988), Médicis (2006), Grand Prix de l’Académie française (2011), Goncourt des lycéens (2013) and most recently Goncourt 2021 des lecteurs de 20 Minutes .

Enfant de salaud” is the true story of the author who tries to shed light on his father’s extremely nebulous past during World War II, in the German-occupied France.

Having had access to official archives, he gradually discovers that his father went through the war by enlisting in five armies, which he all deserted. He served the enemy in every way, but always made sure that the few things he was doing for Francewere listed somewhere in case of an investigation after the war.

The head of the Sûreté nationale de Lille who questioned the father after the war said of him: “This individual is a liar endowed with an astonishing imagination. He must be considered very dangerous and treated as such.”

Between the reflections and the discoveries of the son on the past and the psychology of the father, the reader participates in parallel to the trial of Klaus Barbie , psychopath and great war criminal, who died in prison in France in 1991. Passages of the book are blood curdling, although we know what to expect when it comes to Nazis, SS and members of the Gestapo.

When the survivor Isaac Lathermann takes the stand during the Barbie trial, he announces: “[in the concentration camps], at breast height, there was no more bark on the trees, everything had been eaten. No more grass either. Eaten too.” (p. 238)

The reader discovers the resistant Lise Lesèvre who, even tortured by Klaus Barbie for days, doesn’t give up a single name: a phenomenal example of courage and patriotism.

Enfant de salaud” is the author’s decades-long inner journey. The fact that he relates a real-life story further reinforces the intensity of the narrative.


Title: Enfant de salaud

Author: Sorj Chalandon

Edition: Grasset et Fasquelle, 2021

ISBN: 978-2-246-82815-0

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A whole life.

Book "A whole life" by Robert Seethaler
Book “A whole life” by Robert Seethaler

While searching high and low in various bookstores in Quebec, I often make very interesting discoveries. I recently found a book by Robert Seethaler, originally published in German under the title of ,, Ein ganzes Leben ” and which in English is translated by “A whole life“.

It is a small book of only 145 pages, but the concise writing has the power to immediately propel the reader into the early 1900s, in the middle of the Austrian mountains. It was the period when the construction of the first cable cars began, a period that would change the whole dynamic of the society by gradually allowing more and more tourists to occupy a territory that was once sparsely inhabited.

The author tells the story of Andreas Egger, a simple and endearing man whose strength of character allows him to stand up to any ordeal. He is not distinguished by his intelligence, which is quite ordinary, but rather by his ability to survive and his desire to always move forward. He is a human being that we love and wish only good for.

Here is what the publisher said about Robert Seethaler: “A whole life, elected book of the year (2014) by bookstores across the Rhine, thus confirms the depth of his talent as a writer, capable of leading with great simplicity his reader as close as possible to his emotions”.

This is a very refreshing read for all!

Title: A Whole Life

Author: Robert Seethaler

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (2016)

© Charlotte Collins, translator (2015)

ISBN 9780374289867

For other novels on my site, click here: Novels

Human behavior War

Books: Au nom du Japon

Books: Au nom du Japon
Books: Au nom du Japon

Even though World War II is over and the armistice was signed in 1945, four Japanese soldiers continue to hide on Lubang Island in the Philippines, awaiting official orders from their superior to surrender. They have been forgotten there in the jungle and continue to survive as best they can, dodging the patrols that have gone looking for them to tell them the war is over. They continue to accumulate information on the island for the intelligence services, hoping to be useful when a possible Japanese landing takes place that will drive the Americans out of the island. Years pass and there will be only one Japanese soldier left, Hiro Onada, who will finally surrender in 1974, thirty years later!

The book is a lesson in survival in a hostile environment. The discipline and resourcefulness that are required to survive and ensure their safety is extremely impressive. Onada, even as he gradually sank into an alternate reality, shows a remarkable tenacity.

Here is a passage that shows the reality of the jungle. I translated it as best as I could: “[…] There are also a lot of bees on the island. Huge swarms fly in the bushy areas at the foot of the mountains. I saw some that were thirty meters wide and a hundred long, flying here and there with unpredictable changes of direction. If we encountered one of these swarms, the only thing to do was to go back to the woods or, if we did not have time, to cover our heads with the canvas of our tent or our clothes and lie down on the ground. If we made the slightest move, they would attack. We had to breathe as gently as possible, until the swarm had passed. “(P.216)

In 1957, bombardments in the neighborhood reassured them that the war continued. But these were military exercises by the Philippine Air Force, not an American attack.

Onada et Qanon

As the years pass, there will be countless opportunities for those soldiers to realize that the war is over. They even had access, for a while, to a radio. It did not matter: whatever was read, heard or discovered by chance was, according to them, only the fruit of disinformation from the enemy.

On reading this real life story, it is possible to make a connection between Onada’s testimony and a follower of Qanon: both cannot accept defeat and believe in an almost divine mission.  As Onada himself put it so well: “At that time, Kozuka and I had developed so many fixed ideas that we were unable to understand everything that differed from them. If something did not fit our vision, we interpreted it to give it the meaning we wanted “(p.192).

When a person is gradually made to believe in an alternate reality and decides to cling to it for their mental or physical health, or both, the same conclusion remains: regardless of the evidence, the rhetoric or the new realities that will be presented, that person will continue to persist with his line of thinking. It will take some dramatic event in his life for him to decide to change course and come back to a more objective reality.

Have a good read!

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Title: Au nom du Japon

Author: Hiro Onada (translated in French by Sébastien Raizer)

Edition: La manufacture de livres

© Hiro Onada, 1974. Reprinted in 2020 for the French version.

ISBN: 978-2-35887-268-3

Aviation Pioneers War

Books : Hans Baur : J’étais le pilote de Hitler.

Books: Hans Baur "J'étais le pilote de Hitler".
Books: Hans Baur “J’étais le pilote de Hitler”.

The book “J’étais le pilote de Hitler” tells a true story that was originally published in 1957. The 2020 French edition, presented and annotated by Claude Quétel, improves our understanding of Hans Baur, one of the founders of Lufthansa in 1926, Hitler‘s personal pilot, but also a high-ranking Nazi SS officer and a close friend of the Führer.

The information offered by Hans Baur is of great interest. Early in Hans Baur’s career, the pilots doing what he did were called aviation pioneers.   At the time, planes contained virtually no air navigation instruments that could assist a pilot flying in difficult weather conditions. The Alps are tricky to fly through in good weather, so it gets a lot more challenging in bad weather and in a poorly equipped plane. If we add the freezing conditions, engine failures, cabins that are not heated and that are not equipped with devices providing supplemental oxygen to pilots, then there are flights that would be considered something like an “exploit”. This aspect of the book is therefore very interesting.

I also liked all of Hans Baur’s anecdotes about Hitler’s demands on him. Being a pilot for the Führer was no small task. Hitler had very high expectations regarding the performance and the punctuality of his personal pilot, and the latter certainly demonstrated extraordinary abilities to satisfy his superior.

Where we have to be wary is that we are still dealing with an SS pilot, who was a member of the Nazi organization before Hitler took power. We have to question his personal values ​​and what he voluntarily neglected in his book. The regular massacres carried out during Barbarossa Operation in Russia, or the elimination of six million Jews, are not discussed, as the SS pilot maintains he was never involved in politics. He carried passengers without asking questions, but he had chosen Nazism as a political movement. When you are invited to Hitler’s table on a daily basis and are therefore part of his inner circle, it is clear that the Nazi represented by Hans Baur is speaking about more than piloting.

The experience in Russian prisons is described as inhuman by Hans Baur, who has been there ten years. He talks about the transport of German prisoners in cattle cars, very bad food, etc. But I couldn’t help but wonder what planet he lived on to denounce his condition as a prisoner while ignoring the treatment the Germans imposed on the Russians and all the people who were deported and massacred. The Einsatzgruppen were not altar boys. Moreover, Claude Quétel also questioned this remark from Hans Baur, adding that “although very harsh, the living and working conditions in the Soviet camps have nothing to do – as we sometimes read – with those of the German concentration camps.”(p.381).

There are also some inaccuracies and sometimes falsehoods that Claude Quétel does not hesitate to point out. Sometimes these are trivial errors resulting from poor memory. However, other important facts are downright inaccurate. As in this passage where Baur says that Hitler decided to attack Russia four weeks before the start of the war, which is not true. The conquest of the East and of more living space is specifically enunciated in Mein Kampf and is spoken of in a book written while Hitler was in prison in 1923 following a failed coup.


The book « J’étais le pilote de Hitler » is a very interesting book, one more about Nazi Germany. The history of Germany is fascinating and complex, from the time of the Holy Roman Empire to the present day. But it seems that it will always be the twelve years of the Nazi period that will achieve more success in bookstores.

Have a good read!

Click on the link for other books on war in my blog.

Click on the link for other books on aviation pioneers in my blog.

Title : J’étais le pilote de Hitler

Author : Hans Baur

Edition : Perrin

© 2020

ISBN : 978-2-262-08168-3

Aviation artists quotes

Quotes from the book “The Man and His Art” by R.G. Smith

Front cover of the book "The Man and His Art" by R.G. Smith
Front cover of the book “The Man and His Art” by R.G. Smith

« We had no television in those days, so my evenings were spent reading history or drawing, mostly airplanes”.

[Lieutenant Commander Beaumont] influenced my life as an artist. […] He participated in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. Where others saw only white and blue in this frigid area, Beaumont found wonderful color and conveyed same in his art. He added alcohol to his paints to prevent them from freezing as he worked in sub-zero temperatures for 30 minute intervals, retreating to a warmer area before going out again”.

It was Beaumont who taught me composition, color balance, and how to look at a subject and translate the visual image to paper or canvas”.

Beaumont emphasized it wasn’t necessary to reproduce an exact replica of a scene as long as the end result achieved dramatic impact”.

Bob Poole taught me […] how to grey down vivid colors. He also taught me that by blending colors, I could add motion to aircrafts and add subtlety to harsh lines”.

Understanding light and its effects is obviously critical to an artist […]. For instance, as the descending sun caught the side of a rusty tanker, it created a starkly bright copper tone. We learned that if we didn’t try to emulate that color on paper within 30 minutes, the light would be lost, and the rich copper tone would quickly change to a dingy, lifeless brown”.

Aspiring artists want to know how to draw and paint, but very few want to take the time to learn”.

Refrain from ever being satisfied with your work. Never stop rehearsing you craft. Every painting is another step in an endless learning curve. Achievement comes from hard work, discipline, and a constant program of practice and learning”.

Accuracy requires study and thorough knowledge of your subject. […] Generally, more than 50 percent of the time invested in a painting went into research”.

Back cover of the book "The Man and His Art" by R.G. Smith
Back cover of the book “The Man and His Art” by R.G. Smith

As to planning a picture, my approach usually entailed making several sketches of ideas for the scene I wanted to create before deciding on the final composition”.

Create the background first, knowing beforehand where you intend to place the aircraft, which should be the last phase of your painting”.

My criticism of much of aviation art today is that many artists feel they must paint every rivet on an aircraft, or every line on a ship. It often appears as though some artists cut their aircraft from a photograph and paste it on the background”.

[…] the eye and the brain do most of the work, connecting the dots and lines. In other words, you don’t have to include every detail, just a suggestion of detail”.

Study the works of artists you admire, or whose style you want to emulate”.

Some artists only see an airplane as a mechanical object. As a result, their depiction of them is mechanical, stilted portraits of aircraft rather than a picture with character, motion, or some measure of dramatic quality”.

I’m not a complicated man and it has never taken much in the way of material things to make me happy. Most of my pleasures have come from my family, my career, my hobby, my books, and my friends. The wonderful experiences and opportunities that came my way were frosting on the cake”.

Title: The Man and His Art. R.G. Smith / an Autobiography (with Rosario “Zip” Rausa)
Author: R.G. Smith with Rosario “Zip” Rausa
Copyright: 1999 by R.G. Smith
Edition: Schiffer Publishing Limited
ISBN: 0-7643-0755-X