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Napoleon Bonaparte Paperback – 1 Jun 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jun 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd (Jun. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750927593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750927598
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 3.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 996,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

J. M. Thompson was Tutorial Fellow in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford and University Lecturer in French History. He was a lecturer of great distinction, whose Lectures on Foreign History 1494-1789, first published in 1923, had sold over 43,000 copies by the time it went out of print 10 years ago.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To sum up this book, as quickly as possible I’d have to say it is badly written, bordering on rubbish.
It has so much French in it that it could do with a supplement translation. Unless you are a fluent French speaker, half of the content wont make any sense to you.
Any book of this kind has to contain historical fact but this book is overloaded to the point of failing to make it interesting to the reader.
This book is more of a reference than an interesting read on one of histories prominent figures.
On the whole I found it very hard going, boring and extremely disappointing.
Verdict: CRAP! Sorry J.M Thompson. you must have worked so hard to collect all those facts only to fail miserably.
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Format: Paperback
Without question one of the best reads I've had in all my years. What Thompson has achieved is quite clever in not trying to re-write history around this time, but by presenting the reader with all the facts, allows you to draw your own conclusions. A book that should be read by all to not just understand how a good book should be written, but how little things have changed over these years in political thinking in Europe. J M Thompson should be recognised for this important written work.
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By A Customer on 19 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
Ignore the foolish and sorely misjudged comments of some of the reviewers, this book is still respected now among the acdemic communtiy for its erudition and breadth of scholarship.
Make no mistake, this is no cotton-candy, lightweight penny-dreadful chronicling the more salacious aspects of the Emperor's love life (for a sensitive treatment of such themes, consider Evangeline Bruce's Napoleon and Josephine). This is predominantly an intricate study of Napoleon's state-building policies, in both France and the Europe he ruled.
I would recommend it to both the general and specialised reader- assuming of course, that they possess a modicum of taste.
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Format: Paperback
Mr Avayard is quite mistaken. A very good book that gives a broad overview of the period without becoming too narrowly focused on military or personal aspects - not the book for understanding Bonaparte's individual battle tactics, but definitely a book worthy of the respect the above reviewer mentioned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 2.8 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Biography Gone Wrong 29 Aug. 2009
By James D. Williams - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A key to successful writing lies in the ability of the author to contextualize the information for the reader. This requirement is especially important in biographies owing to the fact that historical figures are part of the places, people, and times of their lives. Thompson's book on Napoleon so completely ignores this requirement that one is forced to conclude that the intended audience has such significant expertise in 18th and 19th century French history and politics that they would have no need to read this work. For those without such expertise, the text is nearly always frustrating and often baffling. Consider: On page 65, Thompson mentions the "arrest of Babeuf" without offering even a shred of information on just who this person was, why he was arrested, or what relevance he had in a biography of Napoleon. On page 74, Thompson introduces Delacroix, again without any information, which is likely to leave the lay reader wondering unnecessarily whether the reference is Charles Delacroix (correct) or his son Eugene. On page 75, Thompson introduces Pierre Garrau, a civilian representative of the Directory that was then governing France with the following sentence: "Garrau, who was sent to assist him, was soon put in his place." Examples such as these fill page after page in mind-numbing succession.

In addition, any work examining Napoleon necessarily must concern itself with his numerous battles throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. Here, again, Thompson comes up short. Napoleon's conquest of Italy between 1796 and 1797 reads like a sophomore's outline. The battle for Arcole, which was desperate and revealed the incompetence, war-weariness, and just plain fear of the French troops--even as it displayed Napoleon's willingness to take amazing personal risks--is described as follows: "The victory of Arcole (November 16th)--the climax of a fortnight's campaign against Wurmser's second attempt to raise the siege--made the ultimate fall of Mantua a foregone conclusion. . ." (p. 79). Not a word about how Napoleon grabbed the French flag and, with his staff officers, rushed the bridge over the river Alpone after his infantry had been repulsed owing to heavy Croatian and Austrian fire. Furthermore, many of Napoleon's battles took place in or around small villages, like Arcole, that few people have ever heard about, yet there is not a single map in the entire book.

Problems such as those noted above are compounded by Thompson's stiff, dismal prose. In 400 pages of tiny print about a man who was full of life to the end, there is not one sentence that captures the essence of Napoleon, not one sentence that causes the reader to smile in recognition. One could argue, I suppose, that a historical work published in 1952 conformed to different standards than what readers today expect. I would submit that such an argument is flawed. One need only look at the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides to recognize that the principles of good writing have not changed drastically over the centuries--and certainly not over the last 60 years. The simple fact is that this is an awful book that fails to do justice to its subject or to the art of writing about history.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Study 10 May 2010
By M. Hooper - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thompson argues that Napoleon's ego and personal ambition were the driving forces behind his success and failure. What becomes clear very early is that Thompson was greatly influenced by his own era and the events of his own life. He seems to have seen Napoleon as an earlier version of Hitler, and that judgment permeates this work. On occasion, Thompson's own evidence argues against personal motivations, something that Thompson simply ignores or dismisses. Still, this is a must read for anyone interested in Napoleon's campaigns and career. Organized by battles and campaigns, Thompson's biography offers an important (even vital) basis for the study of the man and the period. Pair it with something like Michael Broers' Europe Under Napoleon 1799-1815 for a more nuanced study of man and period. The two also offer an excellent example of contrasting interpretations of Napoleon. As Broer assumes familiarity with Thompson's work, I would strongly recommend that the reader begin with Thompson simply to make Broer more comprehensible. For either/both, a good map of France and of Europe at the ready will make it all more fun.
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hubris 9 Nov. 2001
By Jan & Jeff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fortunately for Napoleonic scholars J.M.Thompson's masterful biography has reappeared in a new, affordable paperback edition. Less hagiographic than Cronin, less expensive than Chandler, and more comprehensive than Markham or Ellis, this volume, though first published in 1952, has aged well and remains a sound investment. Its success, no doubt, is owed in part to the author's reliance on primary sources and his decision to base the foundation of the work on Bonaparte's own personal correspondence. Thompson's facile writing ability plays no small part as well.
While chronicling the rise and fall of Napoleon, the author displays a keen apprehension of the repercussions of decisions and actions while finding time to apprise the reader of the roles of those on the sidelines; a Saliceti, a Fouche, a Madame de Stael. The enormous sweep of time is succinctly capsuled by the author and one comes away with a far better understanding of the era thanks to Thompson's critical analysis while being entertained by a master storyteller.
Neither incomparable saint nor inconceivable devil, Napoleon comes through as a tragically flawed genius, unable to rise to true greatness by his own egoism and selfishness.
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