Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts. PART 4 of 8.



(Photo:General Bonaparte surrounded by members of the Council of Five Hundred during the Coup of 18 Brumaire, by François Bouchot )

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Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts. PART 4 of 8.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: There have been many books about Napoleon, but Andrew Roberts’ single-volume biography is the first to make full use of the ongoing French publication of Napoleon’s 33,000 letters. Seemingly leaving no stone unturned, Roberts begins in Corsica in 1769, pointing to Napoleon’s roots on that island—and a resulting fascination with the Roman Empire—as an early indicator of what history might hold for the boy. Napoleon’s upbringing—from his roots, to his penchant for holing up and reading about classic wars, to his education in France, all seemed to point in one direction—and by the time he was 24, he was a French general. Though he would be dead by fifty one, it was only the beginning of what he would accomplish. Although Napoleon: A Life is 800 pages long, it is both enjoyable and illuminating. Napoleon comes across as whip smart, well-studied, ambitious to a fault, a little awkward, and perhaps most importantly, a man who could turn on the charm when he needed to. Through his portrait, Roberts seems to be arguing two things: that Napoleon was far more than just a complex, and that his contributions to the world greatly surpassed those of the evil dictators that some compare him to. “The historian, like the orator,” Roberts quotes Napoleon as saying, “must persuade. He must convince.” I, for one, am convinced. A fascinating read. –Chris Schluep

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for Napoleon

“An epically scaled new biography . . . Roberts brilliantly conveys the sheer energy and presence of Napoleon the organizational and military whirlwind who, through crisp and incessant questioning, sized up people and problems and got things done. . . . His dynamism shines in Roberts’s set-piece chapters on major battles like Austerlitz, Jena, and Marengo, turning visionary military maneuvers into politically potent moments.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“Roberts is a masterly storyteller. . . . I would recommend his book to anyone seeking an accessible chronicle, rich in anecdote, of Napoleon’s fantastic story.”

—Max Hastings, The Wall Street Journal

“With his customary flair and keen historical eye, Andrew Roberts has delivered the goods again. This is the best one volume biography of Napoleon in English for the last four decades. A tour de force that belongs on every history lover’s bookshelf!”

—Jay Winik, bestselling author of The Great Upheaval and April 1865

“Is another long life of Napoleon really necessary? On three counts, the answer given by Andrew Roberts’s impressive book is an emphatic yes. The most important is that this is the first single-volume general biography to make full use of the treasure trove of Napoleon’s 33,000-odd letters, which began being published in Paris only in 2004. Second, Roberts, who has previously written on Napoleon and Wellington, is a masterly analyst of the French emperor’s many battles. Third, his book is beautifully written and a pleasure to read.”

—The Economist

“Napoleon remade France and much of Europe in his fifteen years in power and proved himself one of history’s greatest military commanders. Roberts’s access to Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, only recently available, allowed him to create a fully human portrait of this larger-than-life figure.”

—The Wall Street Journal, Holiday Gift Guide

“A huge, rich, deep, witty, humane and unapologetically admiring biography that is a pleasure to read. The Napoleon painted here is a whirlwind of a man—not only a vigorous and supremely confident commander, but an astonishingly busy governor, correspondent and lo...

Jun 18, 12:00 AM
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