Napoleon: A Biography

Napoleon: A Biography

Frank McLynn

Language: English

Pages: 767

ISBN: 1611450373

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“A brilliant biography which will surely become a classic life of Napoleon.”—The Times [London]
Author McLynn explores the Promethean legend from his Corsican roots, through the chaotic years of the French Revolution and his extraordinary military triumphs, to the coronation in 1804, to his fatal decision in 1812 to add Russia to his seemingly endless conquests, and his ultimate defeat, imprisonment, and death in Saint Helena. McLynn aptly reveals the extent to which Napoleon was both existential hero and plaything of fate, mathematician and mystic, intellectual giant and moral pygmy, great man and deeply flawed human being.

As Napoleon’s obsession with his family surfaces and his conviction that every man has his price, the emperor emerges as a figure closer to a modern Mafia godfather than a visionary European. In this work, McLynn brings the reader, as never before, closer to understanding the much mythologized Napoleon. 16 black-and-white illustrations















marrying Hippolyte Charles. It was said that Louis Gohier, the new president of the Directory, encouraged her in this ambition, hoping that he in turn could become her lover, but both Charles and Barras cautioned against the idea. In yet another melancholy twist of the ronde de l’amour, Désirée in 1798 took as her husband none other than Napoleon’s bitterest enemy Jean Bernadotte. The idyll with Pauline Fourès came to an abrupt end on 10 February 1799 when Napoleon left Cairo for Syria. He had

court ball shortly afterwards when Napoleon decided to have a crack at the land of his ancestors. ‘Tutti gli Italiani danzano si male,’ he announced (‘All Italians dance so badly’). The quickwitted woman replied: ‘Non tutti, ma buona parte’ (a clever play on words, meaning either ‘Not all but a good part,’ or ‘Not all but Bonaparte does’). The magnetic charm Napoleon is said to have exercised on men appears to have left women cold. Clearly for them power rather than personal charisma was the

fight a campaign where he was outnumbered? This was an especially potent consideration, given that the Emperor evinced more and more impatience with the chessplaying aspect of his military craft. His ignorance of terrain and failure to scout ahead adequately put him in a false position at Eylau, and his disregard of climatic and geographical factors led him to cross the Oder without taking into account the ice, snow and mud. Remembering similar débâcles in Egypt and Santo Domingo which arose

the marriage was to be dissolved. In the Throne Room of the Tuileries, in what was presented as a glittering imperial occasion, Napoleon told his courtiers that he was acting against the dictates of his heart for the best interests of France. After expressing gratitude to Josephine for thirteen memorable years, he sat down in tears. Josephine replied by saying she was proud to show this ultimate proof of devotion, but then broke down and could not continue; the rest of her statement was read out

always based on the ability of highly trained units to implement them. Napoleon’s military maxims presuppose an army keyed to the highest pitch of élan and commitment. What sounds like armchair theorizing turns out on closer inspection to require every single army corps to be an élite unit. Take the following: ‘When you are driven from a first position, you should rally your columns at a sufficient distance in the rear, to prevent the enemy from anticipating them; for the greatest misfortune you

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