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


Magazine and News is a place where, every day, we bring you not only what’s going on in the Napoleonic world and interviews with those leading Napoleonic history today, but we also offer you Napoleonic pastimes, entertainments, and even recipes. Enjoy!

Latest updates :

Quiz : The major reforms of the Consulate and the Empire (August 2010)
Vient de paraitre : Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878
Sites, musées et monuments : Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits (Brussels)
anglegauche angledroit


Each month we present an important recent book, and every week we report on recent publications.
You can also find the books published in previous years by using the scrollbar menu at the bottom of the page. To add one or more books to your «My » account, click on the title(s) and then select «Add to my account».

For information concerning this section, contact us.


JOSPIN Lionel, Le mal napoléonien (Essay, in French)

<i>Le mal napoléonien</i>, Lionel Jospin © Seuil, 2014

Le mal napoléonien, Lionel Jospin © Seuil, 2014

"I have long been pondering on, and turning over in my mind, the place taken by Napoleon Bonaparte in our national consciousness, the glory attached to his name. I have long been struck by the mark he has left on our history.
I wrote this book as a politician, as a man with an inside view of how power works and driven by a certain idea of what, over time, my country's interests are. I wanted to share with my readers this journey which took me from a crucial period in French history to the present day, with the aim of shedding light on certain aspects of the present.” Lionel Jospin

Review by Pierre Branda, historian, Head of the Department of Heritage at the Fondation Napoléon

Former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's book, published by the Editions du Seuil, is an essay on what he calls the "Napoleonic evil." From the outset the author proclaims it will be subjective. His pen is politically orientated; indeed Lionel Jospin readily imagines that he would have been an opponent of the Emperor had he lived at that time. This remark sets the tone. And yet, despite this initial statement, Lionel Jospin attempts to write history by tracing the main transformations of French society and of the European order desired by Napoleon. His conclusion is however clear: the Napoleonic balance sheet in the end came out negative. The order needed after the revolutionary years, for instance, evolved into a "despotic regime and a police state", the religious compromise was "spoiled" and the Industrial Revolution incomplete. At the European level, Lionel Jospin considers that the Emperor was wrong not to support "the forces of transformation" which were, according to him, already present. Evolving from being progressive, or at least being presented as such when he took power, Napoleon thus became in Lionel Jospin's eyes a dangerous reactionary. Accordingly, the author considers Napoleon's failure inevitable. Therefore, it is not clear why this historical figure has haunted French national consciousness for so long, from Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte to Nicolas Sarkozy.
The charge against the Emperor lacks subtlety. By seeing this "Napoleonic evil" everywhere, the book becomes paradoxical. You could even wonder whether Lionel Jospin might in fact, be a Bonapartist unbeknownst to himself. Indeed, he implies that Napoleon alone could do anything and that the failure of France in 1814 and 1815 was due to him alone. A remarkable tribute! Lionel Jospin therefore ultimately agrees with the philosopher Hegel who saw Napoleon as the "soul of the world on horseback”. But focusing on one man only, Lionel Jospin forgets the historical and European context too easily. For instance he describes the Emperor's anti-British "obsession". For sure, Napoleon never ceased fighting the British on land and on sea, but wasn't there the same "obsession" across the Channel against France? This is obvious. Lionel Jospin also criticizes the Emperor for not spreading revolutionary ideals in Europe. But what of the attitude of the revolutionary armies for nearly seven years beyond our borders? Was it a paragon of civilisation? It is doubtful, considering the arbitrary "requisitions" imposed in Germany or in Italy with the aim of rescuing a ruined France. Opponents oppressed by the imperial police? Of course they were, but they probably preferred distancing measures taken by Fouché's police to the guillotine of the Terror. Napoleonic Order was admittedly imperfect but on the positive side it existed without atrocities or the denial of the individual. The memory of Napoleon endures because the structures he created endured not just in France but also in Europe. As an astute politician, Louis XVIII made no mistake in retaining almost all the Napoleonic institutions and laws. Which regime can boast of having left a legacy hardly modified by his successors? Not many. Food for thought, in spite of what our former Prime Minister may say… 

Place and publisher: Paris: Seuil

Date of publication: 2014

This week’s book(s):

From the publishers:
“Fouché, of course, was not a nobody. Fouché from Nantes, the penniless bourgeois, the small, cassock-wearing professor of the Collèges de l'Oratoire; Fouché the assembly member, the king-killer, the proconsul of Nevers and Moulins, the gunner of Lyon, the destroyer of Robespierre, Napoléon's nightmare, the minister of all the regimes, the inventor of the modern police force, the builder of the State, the theoretician and the man of action, the adventurer, the conspirator and the upstart. Undoubtedly one of the most powerful men of his age, undoubtedly one of the most interesting. There are few men who invent new rules before the end of the game. Fouché was one of them.”
In Fouché. Les silences de la pieuvre, Emmanuel de Waresquiel digs into every corner of the life of a man as secretive as he was contradictory. With the help of an enormous collection of archives – many of which are unedited – Waresquiel paints a brilliant portrait of an incredible character who has long been misunderstood and poorly served by his bad reputation. In doing so, he gives us a timely and topical Fouché as you've never seen him before.

(translated by F. Whitlum-Cooper)

Place and publisher: Paris: Tallandier

Date of publication: 2014

Number of pages: 882

From the publishers:
"...More has probably been written about the Waterloo campaign than almost any other in history. It was the climax of the Napoleonic Wars and forms a watershed in both European and world history. However, the lethal combination of national bias, wilful distortion and simple error has unfortunately led to the constantly regurgitated traditional 'accepted' version being significantly wrong regarding many episodes in the campaign. Oft-repeated claims have morphed into established fact and, with the bicentenary of this famous battle soon to be commemorated, it is high time that these are challenged and finally dismissed.
Gareth Glover has spent a decade uncovering hundreds of previously unpublished eyewitness accounts of the battle and campaign, which have highlighted many of these myths and errors. In this ground-breaking history, based on extensive primary research of all the nations involved, he provides a readable and beautifully balanced account of the entire campaign while challenging these distorted claims and myths, and he provides clear evidence to back his version of events. His thoughtful reassessment of this decisive episode in world history will be stimulating reading for those already familiar with the Napoleonic period and it will form a fascinating introduction for readers who are discovering this extraordinary event for the first time..."

Place and publisher: Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books

Date of publication: 2014

Number of pages: 256

 See all books highlighted as This month's book


Back to the homepage

Back to the section homepage

Back to the heading homepage






Add to your selection



See the books published in




Top of the page

Bulletin | My | Site Map | Contact us | Add to your favourites | Legal | ISSN 2272-1800