Alistair Horne begins his absorbing account by examining Napoleon's rise to prominence against the background of the French Revolution. He describes Napoleon's brilliance as a general and strategist, culminating in the Battle of Austerlitz, one of the greatest military campaigns of all times. He goes on to discuss the cultural achievements of the ...
Alistair Horne begins his absorbing account by examining Napoleon's rise to prominence against the background of the French Revolution. He describes Napoleon's brilliance as a general and strategist, culminating in the Battle of Austerlitz, one of the greatest military campaigns of all times. He goes on to discuss the cultural achievements of the Napoleonic era both in France and abroad before charting Napoleon's downfall and his bitter defeat at Waterloo in 1815. The book ends with a discussion of Napoleon's legacy and the myths that have sprung up around this most controversial of French leaders. Horne's book is popular history at its very best - a gripping narrative, enriched by fascinating anecdotes, told by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-04-05 Two centuries on, Napoleon remains very much a part of European political discourse, as French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin's recent 600-page canonization of the Corsican-born leader made clear. From the pen of the popular historian Horne (Seven Ages of Paris; The Price of Glory: Verdun, 1916) comes a slim and sexy addition to the 600,000 works on Napoleon Horne says are in existence. Here the author focuses on the nonmilitary and domestic dimensions of Napoleon's life and times: particularly his character, his private life, his beautification of Paris, the style empire and the see-through gossamer blouses of the ladies of the naughty 1790s. Horne's taste for the titillating will be shared by some readers: in Egypt, Napoleon "was solaced by a lady called La Bellilote, who concealed a well-rounded pair of buttocks in tight officer breaches," in Paris by the full-breasted 15-year-old Mademoiselle George. Horne draws extensively on the pages of Lanzac de Laborie's massive and largely unread early 20th-century account of Napoleonic Paris, which furnishes him with a treasure-trove of local color. Unfortunately, there are several signs of haste: whatever his achievements, Napoleon was not born in the 15th-century reign of Louis XI, and the first years of the 19th century were not a "new millennium"; the book's sexiness, above all, comes at the expense of real weight. Its cultural points of reference (the constant comparisons to the Nazi and Soviet regimes) are dated, and one might wish for a work more seriously engaged with its subject's importance for the universalizing ideologies of the present. As picturesque social history, however, this addition to the Chronicles series is fleet-footed and fast-moving. (May 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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