“I have a love interest in every one of my films — a gun.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
LaRue Tactical Rifles
LaRue Tactical rifles feature prominently in many of my novels. They are hands-down some of the most effective and most accurate weapons on the planet. These rifles come from a sophisticated and understated shop in Leander, Texas, north of Austin, founded by Mark LaRue in 1980.
In THE LAST PATRIOT, Harvath uses a custom built, short-barreled LaRue M4 stealth tactical rifle with the mythological hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder, engraved on the magazine. It is based on one of my personal LaRue rifles.
FOOD & DRINK
“Only the pure of heart can make a good soup” – Ludwig van Beethoven
In THE LAST PATRIOT, I mention one of my favorite places in Paris for onion soup, Au Pied de Cochon. I hope you enjoy this recipe:
French Onion Soup
- 2 T butter-unsalted
- 6 red onions-sliced lengthwise approximately 1/8” thick
- 6 C chicken broth
- 1 ¾ C beef broth
- ¼ C dry red wine
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- Dash of dry sherry per cup of soup
- Gruyere or Swiss cheese – grated
- 1 baguette, sliced ½” thick on the bias
Melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the onions and ½ t table salt. Cook, stirring frequently for approximately 30 minutes, until the onions are reduced, soft, and starting to brown. Then add the chicken and beef broths, red wine, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to get up the brown bits, then bring down the temperature to simmer the soup for 20 minutes. Discard the herbs, and add the balsamic, then salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil (this just helps with cleanup). Place bread on baking sheet, and top each one with grated cheese. Place under the broiler, and watch carefully. You want the cheese to bubble and just start to turn brown. Put the soup in bowls, and as desired drizzle sherry on top. Just prior to serving place a toast or 2 on top (you don’t want it there too long or it will get soggy). Bon Appetit!
In honor of President Rutledge, who enjoys St. Pauli Girl beer, try their Dark beer with French onion soup. For a more traditional pairing, a merlot-based Bordeaux wine is a terrific choice. French press coffee tops off the meal with an authentic experience.
“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn
Paris: City of Sights
With its beginnings as an ancient trade settlement on an island in the middle of the River Seine, Paris has grown into a magnificent city and international center for food, culture, and fashion. There are dozens of world-renowned sights to visit and infinite off-the-beaten-path treasures to discover. These are just a few of my favorite spots in the City of Light, which years ago I called home.
- Notre Dame’s iconic spire, buttresses and façade make this cathedral one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and best-known landmarks on the Parisian skyline.
- The Louvre was once a palace and is now one of the largest and most famous art museums in the world.
- Sacre Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, sits at the highest point in the city atop the neighborhood of Montmartre, a historic artists’ community.
- The Palais Garnier Paris Opera House is an opulent example of the Beaux Arts style inside and outside, and may be best known as the setting for The Phantom of the Opera.
- Two very different spots where I used to like to go to relax and people watch are the post-modern cultural complex, the Centre Pompidou, and the gardens of the Trocadero surrounded by museums and beautiful views of many of the city’s landmarks across the Seine.
- For a relaxing break, the Luxembourg Gardens offer locals and tourists alike a respite from the bustling city around them.
- Musee Carnavale traces Paris’s history from ancient times to present, putting the changing face of Paris over 2000 years on display.
- Musee Nissim de Camondo is perfect for all the 18th century junkies like me who will appreciate the decorative arts and artifacts. The museum served as a location for Milos Forman’s film Valmont.
- Pere La Chaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris. It gained notoriety for serving as the final resting place for famous figures from Jim Morrison to Chopin.
- Finally, straight out of THE LAST PATRIOT, the Grand Palais, which was constructed for the 1900’s world’s fair, hosts the International Antiquarian Book Fair each year.
“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the peace of servitude.” – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson, who played a central role in America’s founding and Declaration of Independence, was integral to the plot of THE LAST PATRIOT. America’s third president has always intrigued me. Not only because he was known for saying he “[could not] live without books,” or that “wine is a necessity of life,” but because I also admire his brand of patriotism.
He often used the Latin phrase, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which means, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the peace of servitude.”
Jefferson was a rebel with a cause who understood freedom is a struggle and patriotism is a part of life.
- How do you define patriotism?
- Do you consider yourself patriotic? Why or why not?
- Who are some great patriots past and present? What makes them patriots?
- What is the state of patriotism in your country? What are patriotic traditions/practices where you live? Do you participate in them?
Click here to see the Book Club Questions for The Last Patriot.