Written with great energy and authority—and using the newly available personal archives of Napoleon himself—the first volume of a majestic two-part biography of the great French emperor and conqueror.
All previous lives of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words. This is the first life of Napoleon, in any language, that makes full use of his newly released personal correspondence compiled by the Napoléon Foundation in Paris. 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 biography of Napoleon in which this brilliant, violent leader is evoked to give the reader a full, dramatic, and all-encompassing portrait.
Relying heavily on a newly released body of Napoleon Bonaparte's personal correspondence, Oxford historian Broers (Napoleon's Other War) brings Napoleon to the brink of mastery of Europe in this first of two projected volumes. Recognizing the "cynical and manipulative" elements of his subject's character, Broers also emphasizes Napoleon's "positive, optimistic mind." A visionary with his feet on the ground, Napoleon absorbed and synthesized the era's vibrant intellectual trends and translated them into systems. War, administration, justice, education all still bear Napoleon's stamp. He navigated the Revolution's turbulent waters, becoming a general in the process. It was in Italy, however, that Napoleon first demonstrated the "verve and genius" that in these years informed his military, diplomatic, and political judgment. Broers remarks that Napoleon "lost his way" in Egypt, but recovered his equilibrium in the 1799 coup of 18 Brumaire, consolidating his position with iron self-discipline until the constitution of the year 10 (1802) opened the way for the administrative reforms that established the parameters of empire. The major unresolved issue remained: a conflict with Britain, which Broers aptly dubs "a dialogue of the deaf," wherein each party saw the other as fundamentally committed to expansion and exploitation. That perspective underwrote the creation of the Grande Arm e. Broer calls this motivated by "the realpolitik of survival," a point he'll have to prove in his next volume.