FRANCE: Boondoggler's Bible

FRANCE Boondoggler's Bible "Stuck in the back of his palace," Napoleon once remarked, "the Emperor can know only what people care to tell him. The Cour des Comptes will keep him informed." To check up on financial high jinks and bureaucratic boon-dogglery in his empire, Bonaparte in 1807 revived the medieval accounting court that had been abolished during the revolution.

The 68-member court is still at it, but the day is long past when its revelations could cost a finagler his job —or even his head. "Far be...

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