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Napoleon
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
This book spans the whole of Napoleon's life: his upbringing on Corsica, his education in France, his rise through the ranks of power in a particularly propitious environment during the French Revolution where he might otherwise have remained a soldier, ostracised from the aristocracy; it covers his rise to consul, his campaigns, his years as Emperor, his defeat in Russia leading to depleted forces, invasion, exile, escape, resurgence and the final fireworks in Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo.

So many significant events punctuate this period that in trying to cover them all Forrest can only present an introduction or overview rather than a comprehensive study. Evidently there are many topics of interest which can only be broadly covered: Napoleon's propaganda and image-projection, Napoleon's love-life, his battle tactics and his mastery of both the political and military spheres. Forrest analyses the motivations of the Frenchman, giving a measured and understandable viewpoint on why he did what he did, and what his real thoughts were based on his actions rather than the constantly manipulated image which he portrayed to the public, most notably in his memoirs written in exile.

Due to the complicated period of history, I found this a book to be read in chunks rather than bits. It is 4 star because although very interesting it lacks the sparkle and panache of a book which stays with you forever. It feels as if the small, quirky details which make history so exciting are cast aside too often in Forrest's agenda to cover the whole period in so little space.

Ultimately this book does exactly what it says on the tin/the blurb: it gives a realist account of how a seemingly unexceptional boy became the world's greatest general and captured the imagination of a nation in his lifetime and long after his death.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2013
What Napoleon did is easy to explain. What is more difficult is how and why. Forrest completes this task by first introducing the social and political atmosphere of France post revolution. From this starting point, the rise, rise, fall, rise and fall (life to death) of Napoleon is presented in a readable but thorough manner. I never felt like too much or too little detail was given.

I think this book could be read without any prior knowledge of Europe 1789 but sometimes a short visit to wikipedia may help to refresh upon some events and people.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2013
This isnt a very scholarly review compared to other historical biographies I have read and is all the better for it. You dont have to be an expert of the time, or have an understanding of military tactics, as I feared you might given the subject but this is a very readable, unbiased and informative book. Highly recommended
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2013
I was curious to read more about Napoleon, and the writer Alan Forrest gets good reviews in the BBC History Magazine, so I thought, I'll have this.

Strong narrative, with an enjoyable insight to the time period.

I started liking Napoleon, but as the book progressed, I learnt that he was nothing more than an opportunist - right place at the right time. Well, that's what I took from it.

A good buy.
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on 17 June 2015
As with nearly all of Alan Forrest's work, this is well written and a joy to read. More of a survey than a detailed biography it creates a very good impression of the man. although no book can lack bias, this is about as balanced a view as one can find.
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on 8 December 2014
Very interesting and gives a great overlook of his life
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on 18 July 2015
Good background reading for A level students.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2014
A Introductory book to Napoleon!
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on 2 October 2014
Love it
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on 25 June 2015
good
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