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Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts

Napoleon: A Life (2014)

by Andrew Roberts

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A spirited biography of Napoleon in the lives-of-great-men tradition: with regard to military endavors good, politics decent, socio-political context largely uninterested, personal life chatty. ( )
  ajungherr | Mar 15, 2018 |
A good and informative book. This book was able to present completely and in an engaging manner the life of a colossal figure in history. I really like the fact that the author did not focus simply on Napoleon as a general, but also on Napoleon as a politician, administrator and an intellectual. As the book repeatedly emphasizes, Napoleon excels in compartmentalizing different aspects of his life. Overall, the book is well-written and I cannot really find anything to criticize about. ( )
  zen_923 | Jul 31, 2017 |
I enjoy biographies and I picked this one up, along with several others at the same time. I recently finished Ronald White’s biography of Ulysses Grant and this biography of Napoleon Bonaparte suffers greatly by comparison. While White’s book was very approachable and a pleasure to read, this effort was most decidedly neither.

Most perturbing to me is a frequent absence of maps where desperately needed. How can you possibly expect a reader to follow page after page of descriptive troop movement, place names, battlefield strategy and tactics without maps. While the Grant biography contained copious and well-crafted maps, this biography contained only a handful, some of which were virtually useless. While the major battles included a single map for each, much of the pre and post battle maneuvering, though painstakingly detailed in the text, without an accompanying map were nothing more than meaningless babble. The chapter devoted to the Italian campaign was an absolute mess.

Almost every biography I have ever read, particularly those associated with political figures, have an angle. Very rarely can a writer put aside their personal feelings when depicting a historical figure. Most commonly, this takes the form of hagiography and the author here makes no apologies for his admiration of Napoleon. He is a total fan boy, even admitting to owning a lock of the Emperor’s hair, among other items of Bonaparte memorabilia. Nevertheless, much of his hero worship is warranted. While many are familiar with Napoleon the General, they are less familiar with his work in the areas of civil and legal administration. Many of his political and legal reforms exist to this day.

Much of what was in the book was already known to me, however many of the other historical personages, family members and functionaries were not. Some of the items concerning Napoleon’s personal life and idiosyncrasies were new to me as well. All in all, this was not a bad biography, and had it contained a better collection of maps, I might have felt better about it, but following on the heels of the Grant biography, it simply suffered in comparison. ( )
1 vote santhony | Jun 5, 2017 |
  pakeurobooks | Oct 19, 2016 |
ספר יוצא מן הכלל. רחב יריעה, מחכים, ומעל לכל נוגע ללב. הספר הצליח לשנות דעתי על נפוליאון פעם שנייה. מהערצה לתיעוב ועכשיו להערכה. ( )
  amoskovacs | Jul 29, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670025321, Hardcover)

The definitive biography of the great soldier-statesman by the New York Times bestselling author of The Storm of War

Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men. Like George Washington and his own hero Julius Caesar, he was one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of all times.

Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine. Like Churchill, he understood the strategic importance of telling his own story, and his memoirs, dictated from exile on St. Helena, became the single bestselling book of the nineteenth century.

An award-winning historian, Roberts traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena. He is as acute in his understanding of politics as he is of military history. Here at last is a biography worthy of its subject: magisterial, insightful, beautifully written, by one of our foremost historians.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:13 -0400)

" ... The first single-volume, cradle-to-grave biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon's thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation"--Jacket.

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