My Life is a Novel

Fred Adler

Fred Adler was an appealing venture-capitalist, whom I met in New York,

On the 42nd floor of one of the smartest buildings on Park Avenue (n° 145), with an amazing view over the luxurious sky-scrapers all around. In the 1980s, one has to remember that venture-capital was a brand new idea in the States – born with the first success stories of the Silicon Valley’s “young breeds”. In France, I was the first journalist to write a article on the phenomenon, but the L’Express rejected it, because “nobody has written about it before”. In other countries, they would have called it a scoop … In the end, Lui le published it. My “secret advisor” in that report was the writer and scientist Jacques Vallée who became a venture-capitalist himself later, and who now writes for the French paper Le Figaro. I was especially impressed, for very different reasons, by two men whom I met - Jean Deléage, on the West Coast, and Fred Adler, on the East Coast. Deléage, a caustic French businessman, used to repeat : « In the States, an annual report is always easy to read : it’s just a means of communication. In France, on the contrary, an annual report is there in order to hide secret strategies. » I’m not sure that the first part of that statement would still be true. Deléage, anyway, had the ways and means to dissect, for any kind of public, the wheels and mechanisms of business. On the other hand, Fred Adler used his charm. I remember, on the wall of his office, a painting with an old Indian chief riding towards the top of a hill, leaving the traces of his horse’s hooves behind in the sand. And the very sweet and musical voice of Adler, melancholic: “And the wind will blow, and reorganize the particles of sand. Nobody will ever even know that a man was there. He’ll disappear, taking with him the memory of a vanished world.»

Pierre Aigrain

In 1980, while I was writing The Electronic Epoch, I was introduced (by a friend of his, Claude Dugas) to Pierre Aigrain, former minister of Sciences and Technology, then special advisor to the President of Thomson Cy. He had been one of the first to introduce the transistor (invented by Bardeen, Shockley and Brattain), into France. Proud, for once, to have a popularization of scientific technology written and published by a young French woman, benefiting from a co-publication with Americans, English, and Germans, Aigrain decided that Thomson should buy 4 000 copies (in French and in English). Even better : two years after, when a cocktail party was organized at the Ministry for the publication of the next title in the same collection, Biotechnology: Strategies for Life, Aigrain attended, alongside his successor, as a kindly godfather, and I entered the room arm in arm with the both the former and the new Minister. .

Pierre Aigrain, in 1985, at the cocktail for the book on Biotechnologies.

Djavad Alamir

In1971, Djavad, Prince Dawallou (from the dynasty denied the throne by the father of the Shah) welcomed the journalists, who had arrived for the celebration of the 2500th Anniversary of the Persian Empire : he was a great friend of the first minister and the press correspondent for a French newspaper, Le Monde if I remember well. He invited me, later, to the Charity Ball of “Petits Lits Blancs”, and presented me to First Minister Hoveyda, with whom I danced the first waltz, just after the opening of the ball by Shabanou Farah Dibah . After the revolution of Imam Khomeiny - “The Man who makes the West tremble”, as one read on a huge masochistic poster, on the top of the House of Iran, prominently midway down Champs-Elysées in Paris -, Djavad had decided to live in France and produce TV programmes. I worked for him for several months, before devoting myself to writing books.

Jack Anderson

This Mormon journalist, born in Salt Lake City, terrified the entire political world in Washington, at the time, with his column Merry-go-round. He was my first interview in the States, I did not speak a word of English – just “Hello” and “Thank you”. The correspondent of l’Express, Gilberte Furstenberg, saved me, picking me up from the shady hotel where I had ended up to drive me home in the plush suburb of Forrest Hill, where she taught me everything I know of English. I remember a very magnetic man, bright, always on his guard. At the end, presenting him with my book Ave Lucifer, I asked him how he himself, a Mormon, would define the Devil. Something strange blazed in his eyes. He answered : « The time I spent with you! »

Lisa Antéby

Thanks to Lisa, in 1996, I re-discovered Jerusalem, to which I had not returned for at least twenty years. I was immediately stunned by her charm and the variety of her knowledge. A specialist in Ethiopian Jews (known as falashas), she could speak fluent Amharik and Hebrew – besides English, of course (she studied in American universities), and French, where she lives part-time. We shared discoveries, feelings, laughs, especially in Toledo, during a very academic and erudite congress, in 1998. She later became a Ph.D., summa cum laude, and married a very well-known and charming journalist, Ben Dror Yemeni, with whom she had little Shira. I was invited, to the engagement party, in a very special “salon” in a famous restaurant in Paris, where, during the XIXth century, “coquettes” used to be invited by senators, and tested on the mirrors (as girls do even today) the diamonds offered by their partners: and so, the mirrors have been completely scratched. And guess what, at the end of a superb meal, Ben Dror – who had already made his proposal, which we later found out before a moved Liza, kneeling down on the bridge of Saint-Michel in Paris – took from his pocket a small box with … a diamond. Therefore, if you look carefully in the bottom righthand corner of the mirror of Salon Victor Hugo, you will discover a name written in Hebraic characters …For a wedding gift, one of Ben Dror’s cousins gave him some letters written between the Yemenite Chief Rabbi, their ancestor, and the ancestor of Lisa, the dear « little Pasha of Jerusalem », Albert Antébi, We can again repeat the words of French writer Chamfort, that, “If chance alone were responsible for everything that happened to us, it could be called God.”. Lisa is part of my chosen family, with her father, my dear David, who helped me tremendously when my daughter was a little girl, and her mother, the seductive and ever young Suzanne.

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