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Napoleon’s life reached its most extraordinary stage, between 1805 and 1810.
In 1805, Napoleon was suddenly at war with Britain, Russia, and Austria. He mobilised all his power to confront them, unleashing his magnificent Grande Armée. Its first, resounding victory at Austerlitz was followed by a whirlwind of campaigns, bringing Napoleon and his men to the borders of Russia.
These stunning triumphs made Napoleon the master of the continent, but they left Britain unbowed. In the years that followed, this struggle with Britain came to dominate Napoleon’s actions, leading him into the bloodbath of the Spanish Peninsular war, and his attempt to blockade Europe against British commerce.
In 1809, Austria launched yet another assault on him. By 1810, Napoleon had routed them, and divorced Josephine in order to marry the daughter of the Austrian Emperor.
But at a time of such victory, his own family was torn asunder in the struggle for survival.
‘The finest biography of Napoleon ever written . . . a wonderful amalgam of deep knowledge, elegant prose and compelling argument.’
’The scholarship is impressive, the narrative has the pace and panache appropriate to the subject and there is much that is new, particularly when Broers probes behind the glitzy façade of Bonaparte’s empire.’
’His accounts of Napoleonic battles are suffused with the characters and psychology of their chief protagonists. He evokes the brilliance of one, the flaws of the other, the bitterness of the slaughter, the apocalyptic aftermaths, the glory and the pity of war. . . . There’s not a dull or relaxing moment, in fact. Such is the life of a monomaniac.’
’What one wants of a biography on this scale is the scholarship without the show, and that is just what Broers delivers. . . His business here is to understand Napoleon and not to judge. . . empathy, as in his first volume, never gets the better of his critical detachment. This is a biography to trust.’
Yet this biography does far more than trace the story of Napoleon's life. It shows a deep understanding of his ambition, of his incisive decision-making and capacity to recognise the abilities and failings of others. . . But what also comes through strongly in this volume is Broers' gift for analysing military campaigns in a lively prose style that will attract the general reader as much as the military specialist.
Michael Broers's book is probably the most important and accomplished account of the early years of Napoleon's reign as emperor to be published in a century. It is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection . . .
'[Broers] is the perfect person to tackle this difficult subject. He has written an extremely rich, multidimensional and fresh work . . . a grippingly written, multilayered narrative.
'This is a truly magnificent book that deals masterfully with a pivotal movement in European history.
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