Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men.
Andrew Roberts's Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon's thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine. Like Churchill, he understood the strategic importance of telling his own story, and his memoirs, dictated from exile on St. Helena, became the single bestselling book of the nineteenth century. An award-winning historian, Roberts traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon's sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena. He is as acute in his understanding of politics as he is of military history. Here at last is a biography worthy of its subject: magisterial, insightful, beautifully written, by one of our foremost historians.
Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men. Like George Washington and his own hero Julius Caesar, he was one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of all times.
- ISBN-13: 9780670025329
- ISBN-10: 0670025321
- Publisher: Viking Books
- Publish Date: November 2014
- Page Count: 926
- Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 1.83 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.06 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Military historian Roberts (The Storm of War) examines Napoleon Bonaparte’s life and times in excruciating detail, leaving out little, if anything, of consequence that happened to the legendary general and ruler of France during his 52 years. Roberts moves from Napoleon’s obscure Corsican origins to his meteoric rise to power, through his fraught personal relationships and his numerous military campaigns, to his sad and ignominious exile on St. Helena, where he died of stomach cancer. Basing his conclusions on a vast trove of Napoleon’s published letters and other contemporary sources, along with personal visits to 53 of 60 battlefields that figured in Napoleon’s career, Roberts argues that Napoleon was not only a brilliant military strategist but also a great statesman and a true intellectual. A micromanager, Napoleon effectively “compartmentaliz his life” to achieve success in both political and military realms—although less so with his wives and mistresses. “Napoleon represented the Enlightenment on horseback,” Roberts writes, describing his coronation as Emperor of France as “a defining moment” of the Enlightenment. He contends that Napoleon’s downfall was due to a combination of unforeseeable circumstances and “a handful of significant miscalculations,” including the invasion of Russia. This is a definitive account that dispels many of the myths that surrounded Napoleon from his lifetime to the present day. Maps. Agent: Georgina Capel, Capel & Land. (Nov.)