LIEVEN Dominic, Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814
© Allen Lane
From the publishers:
This book tells the story of one of the most astonishing dramas in Europe's history. In the summer of 1812 after years of uneasy peace, Napoleon, the master of almost the whole continent, marched into Russia with the largest army ever assembled, confident that he would sweep everything before him. Less than two years later the Russian army was itself marching into Paris and Napoleon's empire lay in ruins.
Using an array of new, rare and surprising sources, Dominic Lieven writes with great panache and insight to describe from the Russians' viewpoint how they went from retreat, defeat and the burning of Moscow to becoming the new liberators of Europe. He conveys the savagery and valour of the fighting (including such huge set-pieces as the Battle of Leipzig), the often tense diplomacy that held together the Allied coalition against Napoleon and the astonishing feats of supply which allowed the Russian army to cut its way across Europe.The consequences of these events could not have been more important: after a whole generation of fighting, Europe (except for the brief coda of Waterloo) was at peace and France's global pretensions at an end. But the great winners, Britain and Russia, now presented new nightmares for the rest of the world.
Much more than just battlefield history, Russia Against Napoleon is also the story of how Russia's home front was mobilised against Napoleon and how much the Russian people suffered in pursuit of victory. It is too the story of one of the most successful espionage operations in history. Ultimately this book shows, memorably and brilliantly, Russia embarking on its strange, central role in Europe's existence, as both threat and protector - a role that continues, in all its complexity, into our own lifetimes.
This book was awarded the 2010 Fondation Napoléon history prize for a non-Francophone work.
Place and publisher: Allen Lane
Date of publication: 2009
Number of pages: 672
This week’s book(s):
From the publishers:
This study provides the first book-length account of U.S.-Habsburg relations from their origins in the early nineteenth century through the aftermath of World War I and the Paris Peace Conference. By including not only high-level diplomacy but also an analysis of diplomats' ceremonial and social activities, as well as an exploration of consular efforts to determine the citizenship status of thousands of individuals who migrated between the two countries, Nicole M. Phelps demonstrates the influence of the Habsburg government on the integration of the United States into the nineteenth-century Great Power System and the influence of American racial politics on the Habsburg Empire's conceptions of nationalism and democracy. In the crisis of World War I, the U.S.-Habsburg relationship transformed international politics from a system in which territorial sovereignty protected diversity to one in which nation-states based on racial categories were considered ideal.
- This book takes the ceremonial activities, social activities and administrative work of consuls seriously, prompting a rethinking of the importance of these frequently dismissed activities in international relations,
- it also combines a study of high politics with an account of the role of everyday people in shaping international relations, the operation of state, and definitions of sovereignty and identity
- it finally demonstrates the involvement of the U.S. in international affairs prior to WWI, countering the traditional narrative of isolation.
Review of this book by Dr Stephen Tuffnell in Reviews in History, dated 6 March, 2014.
Place and publisher: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Date of publication: 2013
Number of pages: 301
This is volume one of Michael Broers' biography of Napoleon. Yes, it's Napoleon's life story. But there are some striking new takes which make it a fascinating read. One that spoke to me was Broers' insistence on the Corsican childhood. The Oxford academic's distinction between Corsicans of the interior and the Corsican coastlanders (aptly set against the image of the Anglo-Irish of the Pale and the Irish of the interior) is fascinatingly new. What's more, this key helps guide the reader throughout the labyrinth of Corsican politics, Paoli, the arrival of the French Revolution, local alliances and conflicts. Broers is also tendentious, when he describes the marriage to Josephine as a mistake! And his insights into the similarities of experience of the soon-to-be imperial couple similarly are compelling. For Napoleon's public career, as Broers himself proudly notes, this is the first ever to have been written using ‘our' Correspondance générale. As a result (not surprisingly), the account is sure and stimulating. Alongside the English-language biographies by John Holland Rose and Steven Englund, his account is one that's going stand the test of time. Roll on volume two!
Peter Hicks, March 2014
Place and publisher: London: Faber and Faber
Date of publication: 2014
Number of pages: 608
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