This is a biography of Napoleon III who ruled over 18 years of glittering success in France known as the Second Empire. Modern Paris was created out of its medieval slums - 47 acres of parkland became 5,000, the streets were redesigned by Hausmann into the grand boulevards we see today, and the dame of the fashion house of Worth became an ...Read MoreThis is a biography of Napoleon III who ruled over 18 years of glittering success in France known as the Second Empire. Modern Paris was created out of its medieval slums - 47 acres of parkland became 5,000, the streets were redesigned by Hausmann into the grand boulevards we see today, and the dame of the fashion house of Worth became an international figure. But the stability was a facade. When Bismarck outmanoeuvred Napoleon in 1866 he brought an entire age to a close. The empire's costly and empty militarism was finally unsupportable. The economy had already had to support three major wars and could support no more. Perhaps the most ludicrous of these had been Eugenie's whim to place a European prince on the throne in Mexico - a plan doomed from its inception.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1988-06-17 In Bierman's delightfully disdainful biography, Louis Napoleon, the bungling, sexually athletic ruler of France's Second Empire, emerges as an implausible monarch. When Parisian workers took to the barricades in 1848, this rakehell was busy gambling and enjoying his English mistress, the courtesan Harriet Howard. A few months later he would be elected president. Proclaiming himself Emperor Napoleon III, he took countless lovers and led his country into one senseless war after another. Dissolute and muddleheaded, he clashed constantly with his frigid wife, Empress Eugenie, who combined a vast ignorance of the world with decided opinions on every facet of foreign policy. Louis Napoleon was quite probably not a Bonaparte at all, biologically speaking, according to the author, but he rode to power on the strength of his name. The biographer of Raoul Wallenberg ( Righteous Gentile ), Bierman attempts to rescue Louis, reminding us of his inventive, bold, humane traits. His populist portrait strips away the tawdry trappings of the Second Empire far more revealingly than many scholarly studies. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and QPBC selections. (August)
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