Descripción de editorial
He took on Napoleon with a set of weapons that seemed unsuited to the task: flattery, courtesy and an alarmingly straight face. And he won. Quite as much as the Duke of Wellington it was the club-footed genius of French diplomacy who defeated the greatest conqueror since Julius Caesar. This is the story of Prince Talleyrand, who attracts as much scorn as Napoleon wins glory. To his critics the arch-aristocrat who delivered France and all Europe from the Emperor's follies is the prince of vice - turncoat, hypocrite, liar, plotter, God-baiter and womanizer, and, to make matters worse, highly successful at them all.
In this life of the master diplomat, David Lawday follows Talleyrand's remarkable career through the most turbulent age Europe has known and explores - for the first time - in intimate detail his extraordinarily perverse relationship with Napoleon. The richly flawed and abundantly gifted character laid bare by David Lawday is the man to whom diplomats continue to look today for the subtlest tricks of the negotiator's art. A good 150 years before a united Europe came into being, Talleyrand's actions laid the ground for it - as they have for a permanent peace now enduring for two centuries between France and her oldest enemy, Britain.
Charles-Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord (1754 1838) was a diplomat for all regimes. He had major French governmental posts, including brief stints as prime minister, for nearly four decades: during the post-terror phase of the French Revolution and then under Napoleon and the Bourbon King Louis XVIII. As portrayed by Lawday, a former correspondent for the Economist, Talleyrand was a womanizer (he and Gouverneur Morris, then the American ambassador to Paris, competed for the same mistress) and a money-grubber, with a certain aristocratic hauteur. Yet Tallyrand was gifted at diplomacy: he was patient, an exceptional listener and, most important, a conciliator. Having had an exceptionally close relationship with Napoleon, he came to staunchly oppose the emperor's "insatiable ambition" and even committed near-treason in his complicity with Austria and Russia against Napoleon. Lawday devotes appropriate space to Talleyrand's finest moment, the 1815 Congress of Vienna, where his skills steered the assembled diplomats to allowing France to remain an integral part of the "concert of Europe." Though comprehensive and quite good, Lawday's biography is long on narrative, hewing closely to the details of Tallyrand's unfolding life, but short on analyses of Tallyrand's choices and of the broader French and European contexts in which he acted. 8 pages of b&w photos; maps.