Napoleon the Great

Author(s) : ROBERTS Andrew
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Napoleon the Great
Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts © Allen Lane

From the publishers: 

“Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the most extraordinary men who ever lived. In the space of just twenty years, from October 1795 when as a young artillery captain he cleared the streets of Paris of insurrectionists, to his final defeat at the (horribly mismanaged) battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Napoleon transformed France and Europe. After seizing power in a coup d'état he ended the corruption and incompetence into which the Revolution had descended. In a series of dazzling battles he reinvented the art of warfare; in peace, he completely remade the laws of France, modernized her systems of education and administration, and presided over a flourishing of the beautiful ‘Empire style' in the arts. The impossibility of defeating his most persistent enemy, Great Britain, led him to make draining and ultimately fatal expeditions into Spain and Russia, where 750,000 Frenchmen were killed or wounded and his empire began to unravel.
[…]Andrew Roberts conveys Napoleon's tremendous energy, both physical and intellectual, and the attractiveness of his personality, even to his enemies. He has walked fifty-three of Napoleon's sixty battlefields, and has absorbed the gigantic new French edition of Napoleon's letters, which allows a complete re-evaluation of this exceptional man. He overturns many received opinions, including the myth of a great romance with Josephine: she took a lover immediately after their marriage, and , as Roberts shows, he had three times as many mistresses as he acknowledged.
Of the climactic battle of Leipzig in 1813, as the fighting closed around the, a sergeant-major of the Grande Armée wrote, ‘No one who has not experienced it can have any idea of the enthusiasm that burst forth from among the half-starved, exhausted soldiers when the Emperor was there in person. If all were demoralized and he appeared, his presence was like an electric shock. All shouted “Vive l'Empereur!” and everyone charged blindly into the fire.'
The reader of this biography will understand why this was so.”

Read a review of Napoleon the Great in The Economist here (external link).
Review in The Seattle Times (external link)
Review in The Washington Post (external link)

The paperback edition was published by Penguin, in April 2015

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London: Allen Lane
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