This is the story of the career of the author's mysterious great uncle Raymond de Candolle, who had apparently disappeared into the bowels of London, at the turn of the twentieth century.
It begins when he joins a group of enterprising bankers, engineers and tycoons, fascinated by international railway opportunities. They build railroads in Mexico, Spain, China, Columbia, and eventually Raymond heads up Argentina's leading railway.
Just as the First World War is about to break out, he is sent to solve a dispute with Germany's Baghdad Railway in Anatolia. He is recruited by the British War Cabinet in 1916 to help stop the German advance in Romania.
As chaos erupts in Russia they send him to deal with the Trans-Siberian Railway, the rise of the Bolsheviks, and finally the capture of Mosul in 1918. He is active at the Paris Peace Conference in settling Romania's reparations and the take-over of the Baghdad railway. In 1921 it is back to Anatolia to deal with its dilapidated railway, and the eventual horrors of the Smyrna genocide. He shakes hands with a victorious Kemal Ataturk.
Raymond's story concludes with his family, and their good friend Ian Fleming, listening to his conclusions about the future.
||234 x 156 mm
||29 May 2020
||32 black-and-white photographs
Philippe Bieler was born in Switzerland in 1933, the son of a senior civil servant at the League of Nations. He graduated in engineering at McGill University, and obtained an MBA at IMD in Switzerland. He had a diverse business career in a series of large international companies where he eventually advanced to the ranks of CEO. In the 1980s he created a small investment bank in New York. In the 1990s, with his brother, he created Canada's largest cranberry farm, and with his son a wine company in the USA. He now lives on a sheep farm in Wales and write books.