A Life of Prince Talleyrand
By (author) David Lawday
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Napoleon's Master by David Lawday
Book DescriptionHe 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.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781844137428
(235mm x 155mm x 30mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Jul-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
US Kirkus Review » A former correspondent for The Economist considers the life of Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754 - 1838), wise and circumspect adviser to kings, an emperor and even a few enemies of France.There may never have been a political survivor like Talleyrand, a man with a soaring career in the Church which he surrendered when he saw greater fame, fortune, sex and power in politics. (On his deathbed, he artfully negotiated official forgiveness.) Lawday's architecture is functional, if not artful. He begins with an explosive moment in 1809, as Napoleon raged against Talleyrand, who somehow remained placid. The author then moves backward to summarize Talleyrand's family history (aristocratic - engendering both admiration and envy in Napoleon), chronicle his entrance both into the Church and into Parisian society and describe how he avoided the Reign of Terror. Talleyrand was able to convince Danton to give him a passport, which he promptly used to sail across the Channel to temporize until the Terror subsided. But the English expelled him, so he sailed to Philadelphia, where he befriended Alexander Hamilton (George Washington did not care for him), saw Niagara Falls and made efforts to re-establish his personal fortune. By 1876 he was back in (safer) France, and the next year he met Napoleon, who was 28 at the time (Talleyrand was 44). Talleyrand quickly established himself as a trusted adviser to Napoleon, who responded by enriching him. But as Lawday persuasively shows, Talleyrand soon soured on the aggressive Corsican, believing he was interested more in personal glory and military conquest than in achieving any balance of power in Europe - or in accepting any rational concept of "Europe" at all. And - secretly, carefully - he worked to undermine his own Emperor. The author deals swiftly with the post-Napoleon years, including some surprising returns to glory for Talleyrand, and he does not neglect the expected discussions of Talleyrand's club foot and his sexual conquests, which, the author notes, he found less stimulating than political ones.Swift, informed and literate - a substantial though conventional life of a legend. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - David Lawday
David Lawday is a native of London, educated there and at Oxford. He is a writer and journalist who was a correspondent for twenty years with The Economist, now based in Paris where his son and daughter grew up and where he lives with his French wife.
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