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Description de l’éditeur
A masterly biography of Napoleon, concentrating on his private life, by the historian described by Stella Tillyard as ‘a master portraitist of great men’s private lives’ and by Amanda Foreman as ‘one of England’s greatest living historical writers’.
Modern history has produced one single myth on a heroic scale to rival those of Alexander and Caesar – that of Napoleon. The continuing fascination of this astonishingly gifted man is reflected in the number of books published each year on various aspects of the Napoleonic legend: some 250,000 volumes in all since Napoleon’s mysterious death in 1821.
What is still needed is now provided by Christopher Hibbert: an authoritative up-to-date account of Napoleon’s private life at all stages of his developing and extraordinary career, based on the fruits of modern research, his character, interests and tastes, his friendships, enmities and love affairs, his relations with the members of his remarkable family, the impressions he made on his contemporaries away from the council chamber and the battlefield, his personal life at war, in exile and as emperor in peacetime, the mystery surrounding his death: in short, the man revealed behind the soldier, statesman and legend.
About the author
Described by Professor Sir John Plumb as a ‘writer of the highest ability’ & by the New Statesman as ‘a pearl of biographers’, Christopher Hibbert is our leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship. His books also include THE DeSTRUCTION OF LORD RAGLAN, THE COURT AT WINDSOR, LONDON and ROME, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MEDICI etc. His biography of QUEEN VICTORIA will be published in autumn 2000 (HC).
Hibbert is both eclectic and prolific, and his energies are hardly flagging; in the last few years, he has produced well-regarded biographies of Wellington, Queen Victoria and George III. Hibbert has a talent for visiting old ground with a fresh eye, and as he crosses the Channel, he does not disappoint. The Napoleon who emerges is not the victor, the emperor nor even the hero brought low, but the man as revealed in his relations with the numerous women in his life: his wives, his mistresses, his sisters and his mother. It is, on the whole, not a pretty sight. Napoleon was often crude, rude, insulting and even violent toward women, some of whom unaccountably found him irresistible. Marie Walewska, the teenaged wife of a Polish count offered to Napoleon to avert the destruction of Poland, fainted at their first private encounter and was raped while unconscious. Still, she appears to have fallen in love with him, and bore his child. Poland, however, was not saved. Napoleon demanded that he be first in the heart of any woman close to him and was ruthless when he detected divided loyalties. He upbraided his stepdaughter, Hortense, for mourning the death of her little boy excessively, and saw to it that Mme. R camier's banker husband was ruined and she herself banished because she virtuously preferred her husband to him. Through all of this, Hibbert remains studiously nonjudgmental, allowing readers to form their own conclusions about the character of the great man. 16 pages color, 8 pages b&w illus. not seen by PW.