3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
concise overview of the life of Napoleon,
This review is from: Napoleon (Hardcover)
I have mixed feelings about this book. i enjoyed reading it and it offers a good, concise, overview of Napoleon's life, achievements, and downfall. i found it particularly interesting and indeed moving in the first and last chapters, which covers ground given limited attention by some other biographers. Forrest's accounts of the return of Napoleon's remains to Paris in 1840, which opens the book, and of his exile and eventual death on St Helena, which come in the penultimate chapter, were for me the strongest, most detailed and informative parts of the book.
And it is this which also gives me the mixed feelings. These events are given more detail and feel that the accounts of Napoleon's civic and military history. For example the Russian invasion and retreat are covered in just a few pages, and there is little information or analysis about the civic changes brought about in France and in the lands Napoleon conquered. This is a very concise account, running to a mere 330 pages, and at times this shows in the brevity of the coverage of key events.
Although very readable, this book will not satisfy those who would like detail of Napoleons life and actions, but is is a good summary for those who already have good knowledge of the subject, or who would like an overview or introduction. For a more detailed account i recommend the excellent Napoleon: A Political Life
Alan Forrest's book makes enjoyable reading though, and it is well written, if too short to do the subject matter full justice - so four stars on balance