An international scholarly online history journal on First and Second Empire subjects: articles, bibliographies, book reviews, in english and in french


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Each month we present an important recent book, and every week we report on recent publications.
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HOUDECEK François, ROUCAUD Michel, Du Niémen à la Bérézina: Lettres et temoignages de soldats français sur la campagne de Russie

Description: The history of the Russian campaign is well known; from the crossing from Niemen to Borodino to the charred rubble of Moscow, and the terrible journey to Berezina. But the experiences, the daily life and the sufferings of the men who wrote down their testimonies and were lucky enough to survive it can hardly be imagined today.
It is that which makes the memoirs of the soldiers published in this edition so valuable. Conserved in the military archives, four of the five testimonies have never been seen before. Two centuries after the event, they allow us to hear the voices of the soldiers, what they saw, how they lived, how the army of the 20 nations was formed, as well as first hand accounts of the advance on Moscow. They also describe contact with the Russian people, the bloody confrontation at Borodino, the fire of Moscow and the retreat which decimated the ranks of an army which up to that point had seemed invincible. 
From staff colonel to brigadier to the baggage train, the captain of the Cuirassiers to the sappers or the adjutant of the Chasseurs à Cheval battalion, the careers, level of education, styles and different views of the writers add to the richness of the collection. With an introduction which retells how the campaign unfolded in the light of the most recent advances in historiography, this edition also contains extensive critical material.
Prefaced by Thierry Lentz, director of the Fondation Napoléon and by General Paulus, chief of historical services at la Défense, the book offers a human perspective, totally new and rich in details and anecdotes as well as grand history about the epic which the campaign and retreat from Russia still conjures in the collective memory today.

Place and publisher: Vincennes: Service historique de la Défense

Date of publication: 2012

Number of pages: 289

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