After his provocative Eminent Churchillians
and his magisterial, award-winning Salisbury
, Andrew Roberts' Napoleon and Wellington
moves further back into the past to examine those titans of early 19th-century Europe. One was revolutionary, one deeply conservative. One aimed to change everything, the other aimed to achieve nothing except to stop the other changing anything. Roberts pre-empts the obvious moan regarding this well-tilled field, by pointing out that this is the first book to examine exactly what the two men thought of each other, and revealing the fascinating contradiction between what they said in public and in private. Roberts' cautious, subtle reading of character, and the narrow focus on just two men--not a mention of Rifleman Harris here--gives the book a novelistic brio. Wellington could be every bit as vainglorious as Napoleon, but Napoleon was unforgiving. Wellington saved Napoleon from execution after Waterloo, but Napoleon left money in his will to the man who had tried to assassinate the Duke. And once Napoleon had gone, Wellington amassed endless trophies of his great enemy--including not one but two of the Emperor's mistresses. Roberts' wry comment: "To sleep with one of Napoleon's mistresses might be considered an accident, but to sleep with two might suggest a pattern of triumphalism..." English readers, who have long lived with the notoriously bitchy comment from another of Wellington's mistresses, that one of their greatest national heroes was, in bed at least, "a cold fish," will be delighted to hear a second opinion from one of these ex-Imperial bed-warmers, that compared to Napoleon, Wellington was "beaucoup le plus fort". So there. Roberts is witty as well as wise, with chapter titles such as "The War for Clio's Ear". And he ends on a provocative, characteristically Euro-sceptic note: Wellington may have won at Waterloo, but today's "politically united Europe led by a centralised (French-led) bureaucracy", represents a final triumph for the Napoleonic vision... touché. --Christopher Hart
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Roberts has set himself a massively challenging task and emerged triumphant." Guardian "genuinely revealing" Sunday Times "Stripping his protagonists of mythic accretions, Roberts describes their trajectories with impressive verve." Independent "As well as being intelligent and opinionated, Roberts is a pleasure to read." Daily Telegraph "So many books have been written about Napoleon that it takes something special to justify a new one. Andrew Roberts triumphantly fulfils that obligation... This is an enthralling narrative, full of original insights and bold historical interpretations." Mail on Sunday "A remarkably readable book that serves as an excellent introduction to a key moment in European history, while still offering new insights to the specialist." The Times