Monday, June 8, 2015

Café Liégeois and the Great War

  Café Liegeois in Liege, Belgium

Have you ever enjoyed a Café Liegeois? They are a delicious dessert made with coffee, ice cream and whipped cream. You can think of Them as Sunday for adults. I enjoyed one last night on a quick trip to Liege, Belgium.

Here is a recipe that uses espresso and coffee ice cream ...

One might be pardonned for supposing Café Liegeois to be Belgian. It is a French dessert. Prior to World War I, the cafe's of Paris would prepare this dessert and call it a Café Viennois.

Meuse River
Liege, Belgium
Then in 1914 the guns of August broke out and it became unfashionable for French restaurants to feature desserts that saluted the Austrian capital.  The lights went out all over Europe and even gastronomy would not be unaffected by the war.

Liege Tower
In the early days of the Great War the Germans invaded the fortress city of Liege, Belgium, which lies on the river Meuse less than twenty miles from the German border. The Belgian forts were made of concrete strengthened by earthworks. Each fort was armed with machine guns and track-mounted artillery in casemates and steel cupolas.

Belgian Soldier WWI
Liege Belgium
One hundred and fifty thousand of the Kaiser's soldiers pressed in upon Liege Who Was Defended by forty thousand Belgian troops. The initial German assaults Were repelled and the Belgian government Issued year overoptimistic announcement: "We are completely victorious.
All the German attacks have been Repulsed. "  (Source: Catastrophe 1914, Europe Goes to War, Max Hastings, 2013).

By August 7, 1914 General Ludendorff led the German soldiers into the heart of Liege capturing the city and earning himself a decoration For Merit from the Kaiser.

To the Defenders of Liege
The defence of Liege had, however, slowed the German advance and cost about 12 days. This would later be credited with helping to "save" Paris from the German onslaught in 1914. French chefs Would honor for the plucky Belgians Their courageous defence of Their homeland.

Patrie Belge 1914-18
Le Grand Curtius, Liege
And so now you know why a German invasion transformed Café Viennois into Café Liegeois!  Raise a glass in honor of the brave defenders of Liege.

Travel notes:  If you are fortunate to visit Liege in 2015 be sure to visit the Exposition on World War I in the Liege train station.  Here is the link...
I stayed at the Pentahotel which is very decent and a good value for money...  The Grand Curtius is a wonderful eclectic museum in Liege and a must for anyone with an interest in weaponry or Belgian history...

WARNING: Don't drink two Café Liegeois after dinner unless you want to stay up all night!

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Midwest Book Review on America Invades

The Midwest Book Review had this to say about America Invades...

America Invades
Christopher Kelly & Stuart Laycock
Book Publishers Network
PO Box 2256, Bothell WA, 98041
Smith Publicity
9781940598420, $29.95, 396pp,

Synopsis: Americans have invaded nearly half the world's countries and been militarily involved with all the rest, except Andorra, Bhutan and Liechtenstein. In "America Invades: How We've Invaded or been Militarily Involved with almost Every Country on Earth", authors Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock take the reader on a global tour of America's military activity around the world ranging from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli -- and everywhere in-between. Whatever your political views this is an extraordinary and often surprising story. Enhanced with the inclusion of personal photos, maps and an index, "America Invades: How We've Invaded or Been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth" provides a perspective and approach to American history that should be brought to the attention of every U.S. citizen.

Critique: An impressive collaboration, "America Invades: How We've Invaded or been Militarily Involved with almost Every Country on Earth" is exceptionally informed and informative. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "America Invades" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "America Invades" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Thanks Midwest Book Review!

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
St. Albans, UK
About fifteen minutes outside of London by rail is the ancient town of St. Albans.  This town was founded by the Romans and is noted for it Cathedral and school.  It is also home of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks -- the oldest pub in England as verified by Guiness.  There has been a public house on this site since around 793.
St. Albans Cathedral
It is a short amble from St. Albans Cathedral to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.  A general rule that has served me well in England and throughout Europe is that, wherever you find a church a pub cannot be far away.  Underground tunnels link the Cathedral and the beer cellar; monks get thirsty too!

The Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub that a visitor can see today was built in the 11th century.

During the English Civil War (1642 - 1651) Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have spent a night at this pub.

Cock fighting was a national sport in England for 600 years from Henry II until the nineteenth century.  Public executions and bear baiting were also once popular entertainments in England.  Queen Elizabeth I, for example, is said to have appreciated bear baiting far more than Shakespeare.  In 1849 cock fighting was banned in England.

But that has not prevented the looney left from raising a fuss about the name of this historic pub.

Commander K. at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks made national news here in Britain recently when PETA challenged the pub name insisting that they change it to "Ye Olde Clever Cocks".    A spokesperson for PETA said, "Changing the name would reflect today's rejection of needless violence and help celebrate chickens as the intelligent, sensitive and social animals they are."  You just can't make this stuff up!  Here is the link...

According to polls most Britons do NOT seem to agree with the maunderings of the publicity hungry activists from PETA.  The folks I met at the pub were not in the least miffed by PETA's feather-brained maneuvers.  They were delighted by the attention for their establishment.

Oldest pub in England
You can learn more about Ye Old Fighting Cocks and perhaps plan a visit on their web site...

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

My latest interview for America Invades...

Monday, May 11, 2015

VE Day + 70 Reflections

VE Day at 70
Royal Albert Hall, London

Last night I was delighted to attend with my son a concert entertainment titled VE Day at 70 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The concert was sponsored by Classic FM ( featured the singer Katherine Jenkins and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  In addition to musical selections from the likes of Holst and Elgar there were dramatic readings.  George Batts, a British Army veteran who landed on D-day, gave a poetry recitation that brought a thunderous ovation.

 Randolph Churchill, the Great-Grandson of Winston Churchill, even delivered the same speech 
his great grandfather had given just over 70 years ago....

This is the lesson: never give in,
Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small,
Large or petty—never give in except to convictions of
Honor and good sense.  Never yield to force: never yield
To the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
God bless you all.  This is your victory!"

About a week prior to VE Day, Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945. About three months later, VJ Day, marking Victory over Imperial Japan would be celebrated around the world.

By August 1945 the worst war in human history came to an end.  Finally, many Americans and other Allied soldiers would return from captivity in German and Japanese POW camps.  At last young men would be re-united with their families.  Demobilization would follow as the troops began to come home to the states.  The GI bill would kick in and millions of world-weary soldiers would be transformed into students.

Over the course of just under four years over 16 million American men and women had served in some capacity in the war.  Today in 2015, less than one million WW2 service vets are still alive.

Florence-American Cemetery, Italy
Just over 400,00 mostly young Americans would never return from their duties in the Second World War.  Many are buried overseas in twenty-four different overseas cemeteries in eleven different countries.  (

Most of us know about the carnage that took place on Omaha beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  But there are many nearly forgotten stories of World War II that deserve to be remembered.  For example…

1) How the USS Wasp helped deliver Spitfire aircraft to the beleaguered island of      Malta during its long three year siege and bombardment by Axis forces. Later that year, the Wasp would be torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.

2) How in the invasion of Sicily nearly 1,400 Americans were killed by friendly fire on July 10, 1943 when the 504th Parachute Regiment was hit by naval gunfire.

C-47F Dakota, IWM Duxford
3) How black and white Stripes would be painted on the undercarriage of all Allied that flew on D-day in order to avoid a repeat of what happened in Sicily.  Look for the D-day stripes on airplanes in your local aviation museum.

4) How in September 1944 young Americans invaded the tiny 13 square mile island of Peleliu in a country (Palau) that most of us have never heard of.

Dwight Eisenhower
Grosvenor Square, London
On of the ironies of World War II was that American forces in Europe were led by a Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was of German descent.  Grosvenor Square in London, where the D-day landing were planned, was referred to by local wags as “Eisenhowerplatz”.  Today it is the home of the American Embassy in London.

In the Spring of 1945 Americans were discovering the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. After Eisenhower visited Ohrdruf Concentration Camp that had been liberated by American troops on April 4, he declared: “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now at least he will know what he is fighting against.

This is why we must always remember and teach our children about VE day and its eternal significance to freedom-loving people around the world.

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

French Foreign Legion Musem

French Foreign Legion Parade Ground
Aubagne France

The French Foreign Legion was founded in 1831 by King Louis Phillipe of France.  It would take undesirables off the streets and put them on the frontline of the French colonial empire.  The Legion's Latin motto "Legio Patria Nostra" means (roughly) "the Legion is our home".  The French Foreign is still going strong to this day with a strength of around 8,000 men with bases in France and on Corsica.

Legio Patria Nostra
The Legion is our Home
The Legion celebrates Camerone day in honor of a desperate bayonet charge that was made in Mexico on April 30, 1863.  Napoleon III had sent the Legion in support of the doomed Emperor Maximilien, his puppet ruler of Mexico.  Maximilien would be shot twice; once by a Mexican firing squad and again by Edouard Manet.

Legionnaire in Mexico

The Legion suffered its highest casualty rate in the French Indochina war of the 1950s.  Legionnaires fell like flies at the trap of Dien Bien Phu.

Aubagne, FR
In our work, America Invades (, we noted that Americans have also served with honor in the French Foreign Legion...

"Americans had also volunteered for the French Foreign Legion, and it’s worth mentioning here some of the better-known names that have been linked to the legion over the decades:

John F. “Jack” Hasey, CIA
Peter Julien Ortiz , one of the most decorated US marines of WWII, OSS, actor in John Ford’s Rio Grande
William Wellman, director of the legion epic, Beau Geste, and many more
Alan Seeger, poet (see Rendezvous with Death below)
Arthur Bluethenthal, member of College Football All-American Team from Princeton, pilot killed in WWI
Eugene Bullard, first African American military pilot
Norman Kerry, actor

Cole Porter told many of his friends that he had joined the French Foreign Legion, though conclusive evidence is lacking. The lyrics for “War Song,” written for the London stage during World War I have been attributed to Cole Porter ...

And when they ask us, how dangerous it was,
Oh, we’ll never tell them, no, we’ll never tell them.
We spent our pay in some cafe,
And fought wild women night and day.
’Twas the cushiest job we ever had.
And when they ask us, and they’re certainly going to ask us, The reason why we didn’t win the Croix de Guerre,
Oh, we’ll never tell them, oh, we’ll never tell them,
There was a front, but damned if we know where.

(Source: A Fine Romance, Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, David Leahman, 2009,

Legionnaires in Film

The French Foreign Legion has been celebrated in fiction and in film from Beau Geste to Laurel and Hardy comedies.

The most famous poem of this legendary unit was written by the American poet Alan Seeger...

Rendezvous with Death

I HAVE a rendezvous with Death  
At some disputed barricade,  
When Spring comes back with rustling shade  
And apple-blossoms fill the air—  
I have a rendezvous with Death          
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.  
It may be he shall take my hand  
And lead me into his dark land  
And close my eyes and quench my breath—  
It may be I shall pass him still.   
I have a rendezvous with Death  
On some scarred slope of battered hill,  
When Spring comes round again this year  
And the first meadow-flowers appear.  
God knows 'twere better to be deep   
Pillowed in silk and scented down,  
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,  
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,  
Where hushed awakenings are dear...  
But I've a rendezvous with Death   
At midnight in some flaming town,  
When Spring trips north again this year,  
And I to my pledged word am true,  
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

The Museum of the French Foreign Legion can be found in Aubagne -- a town in Provence near Marseilles.  Here is their web site...

Marco Kelly
French Foreign Legion Museum
If college and rugby plans don't work out for my son...there is always the Legion!

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

America and Malta in WWII

Malta in the Med.
Malta was definitely a British show in World War II.  The British had controlled Malta since 1800 and created a key naval base in the center of the Mediterranean.

The Axis siege of Malta lasted from Mussolini's declaration of war on June 10, 1940 until Italy surrendered and joined the allies in the summer of 1943.  During this time Malta was subjected to the most intense and prolonged bombing of any part of the world during the Second World War.  RAF pilots provided critical air defence of the island during countless bombing raids.  Royal navy submarines sank and harassed Axis convoys which were supplying Rommel's Africa Corps from Italian ports.  Malta was desperately short of essential supplies including food, ammunition and, most importantly aviation fuel.
USS Wasp, Malta Maritime Museum
America provided vital assistance to the defence of Malta during the war.  Even prior to Pearl Harbor, Churchill communicated to FDR Malta's desperate need for additional fighter aircraft and the recently commissioned aircraft carrier, USS Wasp, was dispatched by FDR to Glasgow to assist the beleaguered island.  In April and, again in May, of 1942 the USS Wasp ferried Spitfires and their pilots, including Denis Barnham, the author of Malta Spitfire Pilot, to Malta.  Winston Churchill himself rang up the captain of the USS Wasp* and said, "Many thanks to you all for your timely help.  Who said a Wasp couldn't sting twice?"

Art Roscoe, a 21-year old Californian, longed to fly, but had a slight astigmatism in one eye and was turned down by the US military.  Instead he joined one of the American Eagle squadron's of the RAF ands was trained as a Spitfire pilot in Essex.  Transferred to Malta, he became a decorated RAF ace.  He was shot down by cannon fire from an ME-109 in October 1942 but managed to survive the crash and the war.

Maltese kids waving US Flag
Arrival of Operation Pedestal Convoy
The USS Ohio was an American built (though English crewed) Liberty ship that was past of the critical convoy called Operation Pedestal.  Hit by numerous bombs and torpedoes, she barely managed to reach Valletta harbor delivering her precious cargo of airplane fuel.  Other American ships resupplying Malta, such as the Santa Elisa, did keep their American crew.

After the siege of Malta lifted in 1943 there was a flood of American troops and officers into Malta.  In June of 1943 General Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces North Africa, planned Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, from his headquarters in Lascaris (on the island of Malta).  Many British felt that the arrival of the better paid American troops drove up prices on the island.

FDR himself paid two visits to the plucky island once in December of 1943 and again for the Malta Conference with Churchill in February 1945.  On December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor, while in Malta, FDR declared as follows...

FDR quote, Valletta, Malta
"In the name of the people of the United States of America, I salute the Island of Malta, its people and defenders, who, in the cause of freedom and justice and decency throughout the world, have rendered valorous service far above and beyond the call of duty.

Under repeated fire from the skies, Malta stood alone, but unafraid in the center of the sea, one tiny bright flame in the darkness—a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come.

Malta's bright story of human fortitude and courage will be read by posterity with wonder and with gratitude through all the ages.

What was done in this Island maintains the highest traditions of gallant men and women who from the beginning of time have lived and died to preserve civilization for all mankind."

FDR Statue
Grosvenor Square, London
Malta became independent on 21 September 1964 and the Royal Navy base was withdrawn in 1979.

* The USS Wasp was later sent to the Pacific theatre where she was sunk by a Japanese submarine at the battle of Guadalcanal.

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades or on

Sunday, March 8, 2015

If You Can

How many young Americans graduate from college without knowing the difference between a stock and a bond?  My unscientific answer would range from "a helluva lot" to "far too many".

If You Can: How Millennials can get Rich Slowly (, published in 2014 by William Bernstein, is the antidote to the disease of economic ignorance.  If you are a millennial, this is an excellent introduction to basic economics and the necessity of saving for retirement -- if you don't relish the prospect of eating cat food in your golden years then buy this book!  If you are the parent of a millennial who is concerned about your child's long term well being this may be the best gift you could give your child.

Simply put, this is a roadmap to a comfortable retirement that almost anyone can follow and benefit from.

William Bernstein, a former Portland Neurologist, is an amazing writer who has helped to bring economic history to vibrant life.  He is the author of A Splendid Exchange -- a history of the phenomenon of trade which I reviewed earlier  He also wrote The Birth of Plenty, a fascinating economic history of Western capitalism (

This is a quick read that can be digested in an hour's time.  The writing is easy to comprehend and straightforward.  Yet the content is right on target for those unschooled in economics.  Bernstein explains to the reader basic economic concepts such as the difference between a bond and stock.

Bernstein offers sage advice for those trying to navigate through the Scylla of disappearing social security and the Charybdis of perpetually turbulent free markets.

Here is more good news.  If you don't want to buy this book you can still get it absolutely free on Bernstein's web site...

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Churchill Factor

Boris's New Book

This is an outstanding book that crackles with insight on every page. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, writes about WSC with verve and flair. As a fellow politician, he writes from a perspective that shows his strong empathy for the greatest Briton of all time.  Does Boris wish to follow in WSC's footsteps and serve as Prime Minister?  Most likely the answer is "yes".

Johnson points out Churchill's remarkable and undeniable physical courage. He notes that when WSC was learning to fly aeroplanes one in 5,000 flights was fatal while 1 in 14 million bicycle rides in today's London is fatal. His aeroplane adventures make harrowing reading. Churchill's life story is not merely a political tract; it is one of the greatest adventure stories of all time.

Johnson has great admiration for his subject, but he is not afraid to point out WSC's many failings. WSC was politically disloyal, wrong on Gallipoli, bone-headed on India, given to racist pronouncements, frequently wrong on wartime strategy -- in short he was human. In spite of these failings he was the one man who was capable of leading Britain during her maximum crisis in 1940. By doing so, he also assumed moral leadership of all freedom-loving peoples and we remain forever in his debt. Churchill was not great because of his flaws, but rather in spite of them. Revisionist historians who belabor his failings utterly miss the essential point about this great and good man.

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
It is absurd to flail Churchill for his "racism" and "militarism" while missing the obvious fact that a victory by Hitler would have meant the triumph of the most virulent form of racist militarism ever seen on the planet.

My only real quibble with the book is its omission of the strange case of Rudolph Hess ( Johnson covers the familiar ground of Halifax's challenge in the spring of 1940. No doubt this was the critical time for Britain. He could have pressed his points even further by mentioning Hess' peace mission of May 1941 and Churchill's indomitable opposition to these overtures.

Johnson notes that Churchill would frequently scrawl the initials KBO onto memos that he received. This stood for "Keep Buggering On" -- words to live by.

Churchill was a factor in the making of the modern world in countless ways. For better or worse, he shaped the modern middle east.  Johnson notes also that John Lennon's middle name was...Winston.

CK with WSC's grave at Bladon

Buy Commander Kelly's first book here...

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Commander is on Tour!

America Invades
Invades America!

Commander Kelly is now on a 36 state tour of the USA to launch our new book...America Invades: How we've invaded or been Militarily Involved with nearly every Country on Earth.

I would love to meet you in person and sign a copy for you.

Here is my tour schedule...

You can follow our progress on our new tour blog here...

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on

See you on the road!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Russell Brand and the Substitution Game

Russell Brand
Britain's Enfant terrible

Why is it when you hear the word "banker" you tend to think of this....?

Bankers per
Parker Brothers
Put another way, why is it that you hear the word "banker" this image of a real banker does not usually come to mind?
American Banker
Jackie Robinson was a founder and the first Chairman of the board of Freedom National Bank in Harlem, NY (for more on Jackie Robinson see...

Next time you read or hear about "greedy bankers" doing this or that why not try playing the substitution game?  Put "Jackie Robinson" into the sentence instead of "bankers" and see if the proposition still holds true.  You might, for example, get something like, "Jackie Robinson was paid an exorbitant bonus..."

Russell Brand and many on the left are quick to condemn the sinister machinations of corporate interests.   These dark forces, they allege, are behind many resource-based American led wars (see video below).  These wars are fought to advance the economic interests of a tiny minority of wealthy Americans -- the infamous "one percent" that was popularized by the Occupy movement.

In a recent interview Brand specifically asserts that politicians are "only interested in servicing the needs of corporations."  (Source:  Brand is an advocate for Revolution and a massive redistribution of wealth.

But here's the rub.

Over eighty-eight million American participate in some form of a benefits plan such as a 401k. (Source:  As of August 2014, there are 146.3 million Americans in the workforce (source:   This means that just over 60 percent of American workers own stocks or bonds in our public markets.

The working people of America own most of America.  The corporate interests of America are aligned with the interests of their owners -- a clear majority of American workers.

So, again, let's try playing the substitution game.

Had Brand said that politicians are "only interested in servicing the needs of about 60 percent of the American work force" would anyone have raised an eyebrow?

Had the Occupy Wall Street crowd complained about the "60 percent" that foots the bills to enable their grousing would that have gone over well?  Would the simple truth have generated such media hoopla?

The demonization of corporations for political purposes has been a time-honored tradition for those on the left on both sides of the pond.

Aureus of Julius Caesar
Non-working capital?
We tend to forget that corporations are simply a means of diversifying risk over many individuals.  They are simply a more efficient capital structure that allows entrepreneurial risk to reside outside of only individuals and families -- see my earlier post on William Bernstein's A Splendid Exchange  The ancient Roman world had no corporations which meant that all liability lay with individuals; this was a major governor to the engine of economic progress.  Wealth in the ancient world consisted largely of coinage made of precious metals.  All too often these riches were buried and forgotten by their owners buried for centuries until the arrival of an archaeologist or treasure hunter.  This forgotten capital could not, of course, be used to construct buildings, build businesses or create job; quite unlike the funds in your checking account.

We tend also to forget that it was these corporations that helped to slay totalitarianism in the 20th century and

Brand suggests also that corporations are destroying the planet with environmental damage.  Yet it was Communism that created Chernobyl.  China, a Communist state is, by far, the world's greatest polluter  Corporations such as Toyota, meanwhile, have been at the forefront of technological innovation that has reduced emissions from motor vehicles.

If a majority of people in a given community want a cleaner environment, then it will be corporations that provide the most efficient means to satisfy that need.

Need a substitute for Russell Brand?  How about, "Sophomoric entertainer and ex-husband of Katie Perry"

What would Russell say about this...?

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on