The Burning of Moscow, Napoleon's Trial by Fire 1812
Alexander Mikaberidze, The Burning of Moscow, Pen and Sword, 2014
From the publishers:
As soon as Napoleon and his Grand Army entered Moscow, on 14 September 1812, the capital erupted in flames that eventually engulfed and destroyed two thirds of the city. The fiery devastation had a profound effect on the Grand Army, but for thirty-five days Napoleon stayed, making increasingly desperate efforts to achieve peace with Russia. Then, in October, almost surrounded by the Russians and with winter fast approaching, he abandoned the capital and embarked on the long, bitter retreat that destroyed his army. The month-long stay in Moscow was a pivotal moment in the war of 1812 – the moment when the initiative swung towards the Tsar's armies and spelled doom for the invading Grand Army – yet it has rarely been studied in the same depth as the other key events of the campaign.
Alexander Mikaberidze, in this third volume of his in-depth reassessment of the war between the French and Russian empires, emphasizes the importance of the Moscow fire and shows how Russian intransigence sealed the fate of the French army. He uses a vast array of French, German, Polish and Russian memoirs, letters and diaries as well as archival material in order to tell the dramatic story of the Moscow fire. Not only does he provide a comprehensive account of events, looking at them from both the French and Russian points of view, but he explores the Russians' motives for leaving, then burning their capital. Using extensive eyewitness accounts, he paints a vivid picture of the harsh reality of life in the remains of the occupied city and describes military operations around Moscow at this turning point in the campaign.
Place and publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Date of publication: 2014
Number of pages: 288
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Description: From the publishers:
"Patrice Gueniffey is the leading French historian of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic age. This book, hailed as a masterwork on its publication in France, takes up the epic narrative at the heart of this turbulent period: the life of Napoleon himself, the man who—in Madame de Staël's words—made the rest of “the human race anonymous.” Gueniffey follows Bonaparte from his obscure boyhood in Corsica, to his meteoric rise during the Italian and Egyptian campaigns of the Revolutionary wars, to his proclamation as Consul for Life in 1802. Bonaparte is the story of how Napoleon became Napoleon. A future volume will trace his career as emperor.
Most books approach Napoleon from an angle—the Machiavellian politician, the military genius, the life without the times, the times without the life. Gueniffey paints a full, nuanced portrait. We meet both the romantic cadet and the young general burning with ambition—one minute helplessly intoxicated with Josephine, the next minute dominating men twice his age, and always at war with his own family. Gueniffey recreates the violent upheavals and global rivalries that set the stage for Napoleon's battles and for his crucial role as state builder. His successes ushered in a new age whose legacy is felt around the world today.
Averse as we are now to martial glory, Napoleon might seem to be a hero from a bygone time. But as Gueniffey says, his life still speaks to us, the ultimate incarnation of the distinctively modern dream to will our own destiny".
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Place and publisher: Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Date of publication: 2015
Number of pages: 1024
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