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The Fall of Napoleon: Volume 1, The Allied Invasion of France, 1813-1814: Allied Invasion of France, 1813 v. 1 (Cambridge Military Histories) Hardcover – 12 Nov 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (12 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521875420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521875424
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 836,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Leggiere has made a significant contribution to Cambridge's Military Histories series. His book belongs in every military history collection, especially those that concentrate on the Napoleonic era.' Library Journal

'The Fall of Napoleon is already a major work on the subject, and there's every reason to believe Volume 2 will be just as good.' www.europeanhistory.about.com

'… Leggiere has set the bar quite high.' Ralph Ashby, H-France

'In writing this book, Michael Leggiere not only updates the standard French and German military accounts written a century ago … but also builds on more recent diplomatic and political studies, for instance those by Henry Kissinger and Paul Schroeder. The text is detailed, but clearly written, and is supported by twenty-five excellent maps, and by fifteen portraits of military and political leaders.' Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research

Book Description

This book tells the story of the invasion of France at the twilight of Napoleon's empire. With over a million men under arms throughout central Europe, Coalition forces crossed the Rhine River to invade France between November 1813 and January 1814. This book provides the first complete English-language study of the invasion along a front extending from Holland to Switzerland.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written book, of a Napoleonic campaign not much covered in the English language, with a considerable amount of research behind it but it is only the beginning ... and the beginning, though important for the background, is the most boring part of the campaign ... at least for those of us who have visited all the sites.

If my memory serves me right, this book was written more than seven years ago, making it a rather long time to wait for part 2. Perhaps the author did not make enough money on part 1 to motivate him to complete part 2 - ?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Detailed and comprehensive but not for the casual reader 27 Feb 2009
By Yankee Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As another reviewer indicated, this book is well researched, and examines the 1813-14 campaign in detail, down to the level of actions involving sometimes no more than a few hundred or even scores of troops.
That very detail makes this not a good choice for readers who simply want a general overview of this campaign. Likewise, I would not recommend this if you are looking for exciting accounts of battlefield drama.
As the author states in the preface, this is "top-down" history written from the point of view of the commanders. That makes for rather dry reading at times, as when the author recites, one by one, which units were led by which commanders, in which sectors, etc. I frankly skimmed through some of the details about various units because I figured that I'd never remember them all anyway, and I was still able to see the forest without examining each individual tree. But if you've got a head for detail you can certainly get your fill of it here.
Either way, if you want a better understanding of this relatively neglected aspect of the Napoleonic wars, this book will do it for you. In addition to a recitation of the events themselves, the author also discusses the motivations of and difficulties faced by the individual commanders, and his assessments generally seem fair and sound. He also does a good job of explaining how political considerations affected military operations, especially on the Allied side.
The book would've benefited from more careful proofreading. I wouldn't call the typos and grammatical errors frequent, but they do pop up with some regularity. The maps are reasonably good and certainly necessary given the broad area in which the events took place and the numerous units involved.
As you can see from the table of contents, the book is arranged geographically, with each chapter discussing what took place in a given sector during a discrete period of time as the invasion progressed. That's probably the best approach the author could've taken, as it conforms more or less to the way in which the supreme commanders on both sides handled the campaign, but just bear in mind that this is not a seamless chronological narrative of the campaign.
As with the "top down" approach and the minute detail, that's not intended as a criticism, just a disclaimer. The author set out to write a comprehensive, commander's-eye view of the invasion of France, and I'd say he succeeded. If you put the time into it you will have a solid understanding of the military events between Leipzig and the Protocols of Langres (not Napoleon's abdication - this is volume I, remember). But if you like your military history to be more of the actionpacked, page-turner variety, look elsewhere.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Important Study of the Time from after Napoleon's Defeat at Leipzig October 1813 through January, 1814 17 Oct 2008
By David M. Dougherty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a heavy and important tome covering the operations in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Eastern France from both the Allied and French sides for the crucial four month period following the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in October, 1813 to the end of January, 1814, when the Allied armies reached the plateau of Langres. From that point, all roads led to Paris, and the Allied armies had forced their way through the French border defenses and most of the traditionally difficult terrain.

The author presents the invasion of France from the issuing of the Frankfurt Proposals by the Allies (Austria, Prussia, Russia & Britain) wherein Napoleon's France would be reduced to its natural boundaries -- proposals that Napoleon unwisely rejected. The Allies then began conducting a coalition campaign under the overall command of the Austrian Schwarzenberg, but heavily influenced by Gneisenau, the Prussian Chief of Staff and Alexander, the Tsar of Russia. The work presents the campaign in its military aspects, but equally importantly with all its diplomatic maneuvering and conflicts. From the French side the author presents Napoleon's actions (mostly in Paris), and the separate frontier comands of Marshals Victor, MacDonald and Marmont and their dificulties in delaying the advance of the overwhelmingly numerically superior allied forces.

Looking at a map and considering the relative sizes of the opposing forces, it is difficult to understand why the Allies couldn't march into Paris in a six-weeks campaign after Leipzig. The author clearly demonstrates why that wasn't possible. The discussions among the leaders of the various allied contingents concerning the proper strategy and movements in the campaign took over a month, and this was a critical month needed by Napoleon to rebuild his forces. In the event, Schwarzenberg led the main army across the Rhine at Basel, Switzerland, and invaded Alsace and Lorraine confronting Victor, the Prussian Bluecher crossed the middle Rhine at several places from Mannheim to Kaub against Marmont, and in Holland a third force of Russians and Prussians under Buelow and Benckendorff fought their way into Arnhem, then to Grave and into Belgium against MacDonald.

All of these campaigns are presented in detail from both sides, perhaps even in a little too much detail for the casual reader, as the narrative goes down into the capture of fortresses defended by a few hundred men and skirmishes by even fewer. Nonetheless, if the reader is able to maintain his balance and a good overview of the situation, this book provides a wealth of information the reader can use to good effect. One is carried along, for example, in a discussion of Victor's state of mind while attempting to save those troops under his command for future battles while responding to Napoleon's demands and orders that were impossible to fulfill or execute. The author includes copies of some of the critical communications in the Appendix.

It is clear from the author's discussion that the French marshals suffered from the lack of Napoleon's presence and each attempted independently to do what was best. They were often at odds with each other, and this lack of coordination (which was fatal) was clearly Napoleon's fault. By 1814, none of the active marshals remaining were skilled at handling independent commands, and that lack of expertise showed dramatically.

On the allied side, Schwarzenberg was slow and indecisive, but his was the campaign to lose. All the allied commanders still feared Napoleon's genius, and were afraid he might show up unexpectedly on their fronts with powerful forces like he had done in the past. This time, however, France was slow to fill out its levees, and Napoleon possessed precious little to work with. The National morale was ebbing, people were tired of war, and the revolutionary spirit was almost gone. Even the citizenry in the areas the Allies occupied failed to provide much resistance, and by January, 1814, it was clear that France was no longer capable of matching the Allies in military manpower.

Not that everything was rosy for the Allies, however. Every mile further into France lengthened their supply lines and exposed allied detachments to attacks in their flanks and rear. As a result, the Allies accepted a French delegation to discuss terms in January, but the French wanted to start from the Frankfurt Proposals whereas Alexander, in particular, wanted France pushed back to its pre-1792 boundaries. That this negotiation took place at all when Napoleon's situation was desperate is an indication of the high regard still being held among the Allies for French martial prowess.

The book ends on the Protocols of Langres, the negotiations being suspended, and the Allies preparing for their march on Paris. Frankly, I was sorry it ended there, and I was looking forward to reading further until Napoleon was forced from power. But alas, that is in Volume II.

This is a very fine work, and I recommend that all individuals interested in the Napoleonic wars buy and read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Tough writing style but lots of information 6 Aug 2013
By Nicholas Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a really hard time getting through this book. The author's writing style was just not conclusive with my reading style. The book did not have the best maps to follow what was going on and there was little sense of flow with the story. This is more of a Napoleonic technical manual in the sense that there are few quotations and visual descriptions to help the reader get into the story. The author is very critical of Napoleon's marshals and the Allied generals to the point where you feel that this campaign was being run by a bunch of bone heads.

That is the bad part. This is the good. The book has tons of information that you cannot find anywhere else. It goes over all the campaigns in France up until Napoleon took command. So it covers, in extensive detail, a short period in time that you will find nowhere else. The book also did a great job going over the war efforts of the various nations and the diplomatic problems facing them. This is where the book is particularily valuable. It provides lots of information that you can find nowhere else, however it is not an easy read.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
INCREDIBLE book 27 Dec 2013
By Sharpe-The Macho Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The amount of information and detail about the least known of Napoleon's campaigns is just astonishing !!!
And this is only Volume 1. Can't wait for Vol 2.
1 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Weakness is a Strength over-used 26 May 2008
By Steven Lim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Immediately after Napoleon's "Fatal March to Moscow", it is already destined that the once powerful, almighty Emperor and General has started its decline. As like anything else in life, what goes up will come down, and when something has enjoyed too much success and power, the flip-side is failure and weaknesses. Napoleon's over-confidence, his age, his health, his inertia, his lack of focus, etc and all contributing factors to a "Perfect Storm" that causes him to loose his entire Empire! A good read. Steven Lim (RSTN) - Singapore.
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