eBook: Download Napoleon Life Andrew Roberts ePub (MOBI, PDF) + Audio Version


  • File Size: 58147 KB
  • Print Length: 846 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 4, 2014)
  • Publication Date: November 4, 2014
  • Language: English

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This is simply not only the first one-volume great Napoleon but also THE book on Napoleon to read if you are new to his life-history or searching for a fresh take. Thanks to the recent release of his private letters (33, 000+) and a fellowship at the Napoleonic Institute, Roberts has a far broader and deeper look into this infamous leader than any other author has already established before. I sometimes find one-volume efforts unwieldy, but Roberts has been providing this style of top quality history reading ever since "The Storm of War" and "Masters and Commanders", and this book simply follows suit! To say just, he knows the material and shares it well. I wouldn't call myself a specialist of western history, really an beginner aficionado at best, even though I've read a whole lot about world politics of the time including biographies of the personalities and memoirs by the members. This book sets a great foundation for Kissinger's " A Planet Restored ", which picks up following the tumble of Napoleon.

For a lot too long, Napoleon has recently been subjected to over-sized common myths and slanderous libel. Roberts' thesis is that Napoleon was not in any way some kind of proto-Hitler master but rather the last and greatest leader of the Enlightenment who had many admirable qualities. A surprisingly sympathetic view from a Brit! Of course he previously an ugly side (responsibility for wars that killed 4-6 million isn't easily forgotten or forgiven) but I was impressed to learn of his involvement in the regeneration of post-Revolution France, patronage to the arts, and establishment of equality under the Napoleon Code.

From his childhood in the obscure (yet lovely) town of Ajaccio, Corsica, only recently purchased by Louis XV from the Genoese, Napoleon never lost the sense that he was not-exactly-French. Napoleon led his life with outstanding order and self-discipline and his dream to lead benefited France almost by accident. Politically, his impact on his country and Europe was plainly deep, but militarily he was out of this world! Roberts' captures his revolutionary touch of warfare, military supplies, logistics, and the use of artillery and tactics, especially in such challenges as Austerlitz in 1805 and Friedland in 1807.

The one area that I found flaw in the book was in Roberts' retelling of Napoleon's strategic failings. Certainly one of his key quarrels that the catastrophic attack of Russia in 1812 was beyond his control, really overlooks what Napoleon overlooked - which is that he underestimated not just the skill of their generals (ie. Barclay de Tolly) and fighting quality of their troops, but additionally the determination of the tsar. And although Roberts concedes that "Napoleon's understanding of naval affairs was dismal, " his brief reference to losing Trafalgar in 1805 really understates the problem. The Battle of Trafalgar was pivotal in identifying world trade systems and killed French hopes of invading England while increasing British economy so that even by 1815 France had barely reached Britain's level of industrialism in 1780.

In other words, I recommend this book whole-heartedly as a one-volume history of Napoleon which reassesses his principle from a distance of time. Hopefully you avoid mind that I arrived to this thoughts and opinions by reading an overview copy of the book and instead found this review helpful!, Inside 1841, Scottish historian Jones Carlyle penned  Upon Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History . One of the first histories to bring forth the " Great Man" tradition of history--the view that certain individuals are driving forces of historical past, and simply knowing about such individuals would give one a good command of the history of that era, Andrew Roberts, an English historian, joined this small but notable position of Anglosphere historians to laud Napoleon as such a figure. Why is this work even more incredible, all things considered, is that a language historian would write and publish a biography of Napoleon that is certainly apologetic and positive on the eve of the bicentennial of the over mythologized Battle of Waterloo where English Nationalists have long wanted to assert that this event, rather than the terrible campaigns of 1813-1814 where Britain played a minimal role, as the Gotterdammerung of Napoleon's life and empire.

Therefore , the biography written by Toby Roberts stands drastically in addition to the majority of scholarship in the last 4 decades of Anglosphere scholarship that has undeniable attempted, with vigor, sometimes very eruditely, and at other times poorly--to destroy the " great man" historiographical tradition and with it, any effort to view Napoleon as " Great" in the same tradition of the other " Great" leaders in world historical past. From Charles Esdaile (2008) who attempted to ruin the credibility of the truly amazing Man historiographical tradition, to Philip Dwyer (2008 and 2011) whose two-volume work on Napoleon attempted to forged him as a myth-maker and brutal battlefield butcher, to Alan Schom (1997) whose biographical work was identified as a " hatchet job" on the France emperor, to Owen Connelly (1987) whose work  Blundering to Glory: Napoleon's Military Campaigns   cast Napoleon as an otherwise incompetent battle-planner in whose real genius was his ability to improvise in the heat of struggle that won him popularity and glory on the battlefield, the list moves on of Anglo-American historians who apparently have an axe to grind with Napoleon. While Connelly's work is, perhaps, somewhat pro-Napoleon within an awkward way, the majority of Anglosphere scholarship has constantly attemptedto split down Napoleon's status--but Toby Roberts eruditely attempts to dispel and overturn these frequent attacks against one of the modern period's last great rulers and generals. Rather than forged Napoleon being an " Anti-Christ, " butcher on the battlefield, or a bloodthirsty ego-maniac, Roberts casts Napoleon in the same line of thinking that Napoleon saw himself as, one of the great individuals of history: a general, husband, emperor, and lawgiver.

Upon the eve of the twin challenges of Jena and Auerstedt, in which Napoleon's forces would utterly devastate the Prussian armies and guide to the emperor's swift capture of Berlin, making an eastern european intervention, the German born philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote of his experience with " The World Soul" (speaking of Napoleon) whom sent shockwaves through Hegel's body. Since the tradition story moves, Hegel even altered aspects of his great work  Phenomenology of Soul   (one of the most important works of modern Western philosophy) after this experience with the Frenchman who could only ever be admired by his onlookers (pp. 415-418). Napoleon, likewise, as Roberts' shows throughout his work, thought of himself as a great " World Soul" pushing the progress of humanity forward. Rather than an usurper and tyrant, as Anglo-American scholars have often depicted Napoleon for us, Napoleon himself saw himself as the embodiment of France Enlightenment philosophy. Any student of the French personal philosophers would naturally concur, the Enlightenment philosophes were extremely elitist and found institutional absolutism as the only avenue for the progress of humanity since the normal peasant was a brutish animal by their very nature. In this same tradition, Napoleon truly did see himself as the pinnacle of the Enlightened absolutist political traditions, and paradoxically for many, saw himself because the protection of the French republican tradition despite becoming an emperor. Contrary to Anglo-American scholarship, Napoleon isn't a pseudo-republican despot, but the very epitome of Enlightenment republicanism, or better, Enlightened Absolutism. After all, this is why Andrew Roberts states of Napoleon, "[He] was your Enlightenment on horseback. "

Roberts', while certainly presenting a positive case for Napoleon, is not short of his criticism of the French emperor. Roberts shows some of the battlefield brutality that Napoleon was capable of committing. This individual has no apologetic protection for Napoleon's invasion of Russia and the after effects that ensued, Roberts both equally makes clear that many Europeans, but especially Frenchmen, died in Napoleon's gambit to wrangle Europe under his boot.

Yet, at the same time, Roberts doesn't shorthand Napoleon's battlefield brilliance, his ability to inspire friends and enemies alike, but more importantly, really does not attempt to ruin Napoleon's Legal reforms: the Napoleonic Code. Napoleon, as a Law Giver, is probably the most successful legislator or administrator of any figure in Europe in the last 200 years. Napoleon's institutions that put meritocracy, religious tolerance and pluralism, and the best structure that certainly curbed the influence of favoritism in politics due to a person's noble birth rank have remained, at least conceptually, the mainframe of modern European law ever since Napoleon's ride across Europe. Their armies might have failed to conquer Europe, but his legislation, in bitter paradox, conquered his conquerors. Roberts' chapter on the Napoleonic Code is where his work shines most brightly, even when it is a quick chapter--for Napoleon himself found his civil code as his greatest accomplishment approaching his deathbed (p. 270).

Upon reading Roberts' publication, while it seems impossible that a figure as towering as Napoleon can ever have " the definitive one-volume biography, " Andrew Roberts comes as close as it may get. A single is left just to amazement at Napoleon's meteoric rise to power, his battlefield ability, his own egoism, his political ability as lawgiver and administrator (which is where Napoleon has been most successful, now, almost 200 years after his death, his legal reforms still have more widespread influence than his armies ever died), and at the same time, one can start to see the promociĆ³n machine and battlefield brutality hard at work. Roberts has written a biography of Napoleon not throwing him as " Great" in the sense that Americans see the deified terno of Presidents: Washington, Lincoln, or FDR, but " great" in the historiographical sense--no other figure from 1796-1815 held the world in his hand, and moved almost 20 years of European history with just one breath, or experienced the rest of a continent shaking in their boots and reacting to his every move.

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Napoleon Life Andrew Roberts
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