Doomsayer from the Past

From the topless beaches of the Côte d'Azur to back packing trails in the Alps, French vacationers last week were enjoying the final moments of their summer holidays. An uncommon number of them, including President François Mitterrand, seemed to have their noses buried in a book. The tome was France's latest rage, a 565-page edition of the apocalyptic predictions of Nostradamus, the Renaissance physician and astrologer. Noted the newsweekly Le Point in a cover story on the sudden French passion for bleak prophecies: "The man of this summer is not Mitterrand,...

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