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Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny by Michael…
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Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny (2014)

by Michael Broers, Michael Broers

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This is the first part of a new two volume biography of Napoleon. Broers draws extensively from both primary and secondary sources.

He starts this biography in Corsica with his family history and the material circumstances surrounding his childhood in Corsica. This is a necessary and important component. Gives a better perspective on the man and his role in the broad Socio-historical processes.

He goes on to chronicle his move to France and the circumstances surrounding it. His role in Robespierre’s reign of terror, where he first got the chance to showcase his military talents at the siege of Toulon. Later he managed to survive the end of Terror and got an important position in the Directory. His first Italian campaign which propelled him to fame (with the help of a lot of shameless self-propaganda, most of which were lies) has also given him a lot of experience in administration and diplomacy. The Egyptian campaign and the coup at the 18th Brumaire which took him to power in the Consulate and eventually to his coronation. This part stops with the events leading to the battle of Austerlitz.

Napoleon was a child of the revolution. Growing up in a Petite bourgeoisie family with little prospects, only the revolution has paved the way for his meteoric rise to power. But he never trusted either the masses or the reactionary royalists. He was obsessed with order, and it was the wealthy middle-class who formed the bedrock of his regime. In his own words there are three major factions in the French society,

“1. there are the friends of the former government; 2. The supporters of an independent if rather aristocratic constitution; 3. The supporters of a French constitution, or of pure democracy. I repress the first, support the second and restrain the third, because the party of the second is that of the rich landowners and priests who, in the final analysis, will win over the mass of the population, and it is essential to rally it around the French cause.”

Napoleon is frequently compared to Hitler and Stalin and understandably so. He was authoritarian and ruthless. He was self-serving and ambitious and never hesitated perpetrating acts of violence whenever necessary. His method of dealing with revolutionary and reactionary uprisings was by destroying whole villages. He gave his army free reign to rape and pillage at their will after a battle. He abandoned his army at Egypt and later sent 50,000 men to a disastrous campaign in Saint-Domingue. His handling of the naval war in 1804-1805 was a disaster and Broers calls it one of his most incompetent and disgraceful acts.
This is a biography that sympathises with Napoleon and casts him in a different light, but is still even-handed. Broers here tries hard to show that Napoleon was not just a blood thirsty dictator and a cynical manipulator. He tries to show how his policies and action are based on his idea of Ralliement and amalgame. He tries to show Napoleon as progressive in both military organisation and civil administration.

This is a wonderful biography that is extensively reasearched and provides a lot of insights and detail regarding the life of Napoleon Bonaparte.

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  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
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Broers, Michaelmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571273432, Hardcover)

This is the first life of Napoleon, in any language, that makes full use of the new version of his Correspondence compiled by the Foundation Napoleon in Paris to replace the sanitized compilation made under the Second French Empire as a propaganda exercise by his nephew, Napoleon III. All previous lives of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words. Michael Broers' biography draws on the thoughts of Napoleon himself as his incomparable life unfolded. It reveals a man of intense emotion, but also of iron self-discipline; of acute intelligence and immeasurable energy. Tracing his life from its dangerous Corsican roots, through his rejection of his early identity, and the dangerous military encounters of his early career, it tells the story of the sheer determination, ruthlessness and careful calculation that won him the precarious mastery of Europe by 1807. After the epic battles of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland, France was the dominant land power on the continent. Here is the first life in which Napoleon speaks in his own voice, but not always as he wanted the world to hear him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

This book deals with the life of Napoleon, that makes full use of the new version of his Correspondence compiled by the Fondation Napoleon in Paris to replace the sanitized compilation made under the Second French Empire as a propaganda exercise by his nephew, Napoleon III. This book draws on the thoughts of Napoleon himself as his life unfolded.… (more)

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