home | history

Napoleon: a Life

by Andrew Roberts, 2014

Here is what Ed Morgan wrote to Amazon about the book:

This is not only the first one-volume history of Napoleon but also THE book on Napoleon to read if you are new to his life-history or looking for a fresh take. Thanks to the recent release of his private letters (33,000+) and a fellowship at the Napoleonic Institute, Roberts has a far wider and deeper look into this infamous leader than any other author has had before

To the end of the epilogue the book is 810 pages — long like Tolstoy's War and Peace, but better reading I think, although I didn't finish and digest War and Peace.

Napoleon as a young man was a Corsican nationalist. He was intellectually progressive, a reader of many books, a supporter of the Enlightenment and a revolutionary. He rose in rank to general, rose in politics and as a military hero. He became a champion of empire and himself an emperor who turned France and the revolution into a police state. He didn't love war, but he was devoted to the glory that it won him from France's populace. He thought that without producing glory the French people would no longer support him. He could have had peace with Britain, but he dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole that inevitably produced a unity of nations that defeated him militarily. Despite being gifted with an unusual intelligence he was a fool regarding France's place in the world. His foolishness is a good lesson for students of international relations and also good governance and revolution.

Here is a long page on "Napoleon Bonaparte: Flawed Hero" in this site's History section.


Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.