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The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0465004822, Paperback)Between the years 1805 and 1815, the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte conquered most of continental Europe, establishing their leader, if but briefly, as "a new Charlemagne." In the second part of his two volumes on the life of the emperor, military historian Robert Asprey examines the armies' triumphs and eventual defeat, following in their footsteps from Spain to Russia, and on to Waterloo.
Bonaparte, Asprey writes, aspired to forge and lead a united, peaceful Europe, a quest that required much blood to be shed. A former U.S. marine officer, Asprey is a reliable commentator on matters of battlefield strategy and tactics, and his book's greatest strength is his power to invoke the feel of bloody engagements, which include the Battle of Borodino, where more than 40,000 Russians fell in a single day (cut down, he notes, by the more than 2 million rounds that French muskets fired); Wagram, where French forces managed to eke out victory over their Austrian foes despite a series of costly blunders; Corunna, where the French forces, having marched 15 and more miles a day, proved "that there have probably been no tougher soldiers in the world"; and the decisive action at Waterloo, where French, Belgian, German, and English armies clashed amid thunderstorms and confusion to an end that was anything but inevitable.
Other books do a better job of treating Napoleon as a political being, but Asprey's is one of the better recent books on Napoleon as general, and students of military history will learn much from his account. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:58 -0400)
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