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Alan Schom

Author of Napoleon Bonaparte: A Life

Includes the names: AM Schom, Alan Scham, Alan Schom

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Oct
26
Alan Schom
Booknotes, Sunday, October 26, 1997
Alan Schom discusses Napoleon Bonaparte: A Life.

Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the most powerful and dominating historical figures of all time, the greatest of all French heroes, and to this day, an endlessly fascinating subject. While thousands of books have been written on him, no comprehensive, one volume biography exists. American-born French scholar Alan Schom has filled this gap with his definitive biography Napoleon Bonaparte. Unlike previous biographers, Schom candidly describes both the strengths and weaknesses of this complicated man, and even has new insights into some of Napoleon's relationships and his often eccentric behavior. Schom's remarkably ambitious, compulsively readable, and authoritative account of Napoleon's life includes all facets of Napoleon's incredible career, from his childhood in Corsica to his death in exile on the island of St. Helena. It follows his many military campaigns and describes the great battles he won and lost, from northern Italy to Egypt, Spain, Prussia, Austria, Poland, and Russia, to his final defeat at Waterloo. It illuminates his extensive political and structural reorganization of the French government; explores his illustrious relationships with his wives—the legendary Josephine and her replacement, Marie-Louise—and some of his mistresses; and chronicles his feuds with his tempestuous family and both loyal and mutinous officials. Key aides, ministers, generals, and naval commanders—from Talleyrand and Police Minister Fouche to Marshals Ney, Davout, and Lannes, Admiral Villeneuve, and many more—are fully portrayed and given their due. International rivalries and diplomatic negotiations are also thoroughly covered, and Napoleon's many opponents and enemies—including Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, Emperor Franz I of Austria, Czar Alexander I of Russia, and field marshals Kutuzov, Blucher, and the Duke of Wellington—are brought vividly to life. There are intriguing fresh insights included, too; among them an examination of Napoleon's little-known friendship with a leading mathematician and savant, and of the cause of his death on St. Helena. Unique in Napoleonic literature, even that by French authors, is Schom's candor about Napoleon's character flaws. Nor does he gloss over the awful misery and destruction that Napoleon' s endless, often needless wars of conquest wreaked on the peoples of Europe, his indifferences to the medical needs of his own soldiers, or the surprisingly frequent examples of his poor planning and intelligence gathering. Enriched by more than ten years of research in the voluminous Napoleonic archives of Europe and the United States; enhanced by vivid recollections and personal accounts of contemporaries who knew Napoleon; fast-paced and full of interesting profiles and dramatic events; and illustrated with nearly one hundred photographs and many maps, NAPOLEON BONAPARTE is a fully balanced and enormously engrossing portrait of one of the greatest and most controversial historical figures of all time. —from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)
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