In his early years, Napoleon was a Corsican nationalist who considered the French to be oppressors. Nevertheless,he was sent to military academies in France, and when he graduated in 1785, at the age of sixteen, he became a second lieutenant in the French army. Napoleon's military career presents a surprising paradox. His genius at tactical manoeuvring was dazzling, and if he were to be judged only by that, he might perhaps be considered the greatest general of all time. In the field of grand strategy, however, he was prone to making gross blunders, such as the invasion of Egypt and Russia. One criterion of a general's greatness is his ability to avoid disastrous errors. It is hard to second-guess the very greatest such as Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, whose armies were never defeated. Because Napoleon was defeated in the end, in 1815, all of his foreign conquests proved ephemeral. This second volume of Robert Asprey's long-awaited biography takes Napoleon from the zenith of his powers to their nadir, and brilliantly places Bonaparte in his full military context.
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(196mm x 130mm x 33mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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UK Kirkus Review »
The two volumes of which this is the second are, by long way, the fullest recent examination of Napoleon as a general. It is by no means, however, the best examination of Napoleon as a man. The author sets out his stall right at the beginning of this second volume: 'ever since his death', he writes, 'Napoleon has too often been the victim of biographical and historical exuberance, of unhealthy literary passions.' No-one could accuse Asprey, at least where his style is concerned, either of exuberance or passion, and whether this is a plus or a minus the reader should probably decide before buying his book. In attempting a balanced view of his subject, he deliberately eschews 'readability' in favour of thoroughness and balance. There are moments when the man draws himself up and forces his biographer to take account of his personality, his inner dreams and ambitions - but on the whole those who wish to 'see' Napoleon in his time and to understand his political and military achievements, could do no better. Those who wish to see him whole, as a man of personal emotions as well as a brilliant tactician, an ambitious politician, had perhaps better look elsewhere. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Robert B. Asprey
Robert Asprey is a former US Marine Corps captain who served in World War 2 and Korea. A Fulbright Scholar, he is a veteran of military history, internationally respected.