67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
A masterpiece of historical narrative,
By A Customer
This review is from: 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow (Hardcover)This book offers a lucid account of both the military and diplomatic aspects of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign. Its greatest strength lies in an exceptionally graphic account of the experience of the Napoleonic soldiery on the march to, and in the retreat from, Moscow. We are not spared harrowing details of suffering from heat and cold, but we also meet many examples of heroism and generosity, most movingly told. Many of the details have an almost hallucinatory vividness. It has greatly enriched my own sense of the pathos of history and of the potentialities of human nature in conditions of extreme trial.
My one criticism of the book is that, if one compares it to Antony Beevor's classic book on Stalingrad, which pays equal attention to the experience of the Russian and of the German soldiery, this book is one-sided. Zamoyski, as a learned and judicious historian, has a right to argue that the standard Russian account of the campaign is a patriotic myth and that the weather did more than the Russian army to defeat the French, but the focus remains too strongly on the invaders: the heroism and suffering of the ordinary Russian soldiery is not treated with the same sympathy and attention to detail as is accorded to the French (and the Poles). This book remains, however, a masterpiece of story-telling. It deserves the huge success one may confidently predict for it.