Dispatches: A Lunch with France's James Bond

A Lunch with France's James Bond

In the wood-paneled dining room of Paris' exclusive Travellers club, the exuberant Count Alexandre de Marenches stands out from the sedate, pinstripe luncheon crowd. At 6 ft. 3 in. and 220 lbs., he would stand out almost anywhere. That can be a problem for a man who has spent much of his career in the low-profile netherworld of international espionage. But today, the former head of French intelligence feels like telling tales out of school.

There was no need for Marenches to introduce himself. His resume is intertwined with the history of France: scion of a noble family that traces its...

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