3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2008
This book covers an era and a family that have been written of countless times, but unlike many biographies of Napoleon I or III that you may turn to instead, this has a wider focus, encompassing all of the Bonapartes and covering an era from the late 18th to the late 19th century. This is a bonus: by not concentrating on one man I didn't lose interest, as I sometimes do when reading lengthy biographies. I was also new to the subject area, knowing little about the Bonapartes or 19th century France, but the book had enough context in it to allow me to understand perfectly the situations that gave rise to the dynasty.
Smith's style is readable and engaging (quite a few iritating typos, though), and the history of the family is a remarkable story with which everyone should be acquainted. This book never ceased to rouse my interest throughout, and I don't hesitate in recommending it to anyone, familiar to the Bonapartes or not. Most people, if they know anything at all about the Bonapartes, will only know the story of Napoleon I. This book gives the others in his family just as large a platform, and they deserve it.