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on 4 June 2017
Arrived in excellent condition and very well priced.
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on 16 July 2015
Napoleon is one of the great figures of history. His is the story of one man’s burning drive and ambition to reach for the heights and claim his glory. He is a figure that polarises opinion from virtually the day that he came onto the political scene to even today, with their being thousands of books written about him and the many aspects of his career, it’s rise and it’s fall.

This is the second volume of the life of Napoleon by Philip Dwyer and focuses on the 16 year period where Napoleon ruled France and a large part of Europe, from the Coup that brought him into power to the final, fateful battle of Waterloo. While covering only a span of 16 years, it was a frantic time, with numerous wars across Europe and a period of great internal change within France itself, as the revolution was done away with, and a monarchy was put in its place. New laws were brought into place (The famous Napoleonic Code) which actually form the basis for the law in many countries today, the settlement and reestablishment of the catholic church in France and the following struggles with the pope and numerous building works.

Philip Dwyer looks at this time with a deeply critical eye. There is a definite sense that the author is not a fan of Napoleon and argues that he was lucky (something which Napoleon has admitted to, luck does play a part in any great general, though to Napoleon it was more destiny then luck) in some of his battles and that his tactical skill was not as great as made out. Philip Dwyer argues that Napoleon’s direct impact was very little on some events, for example he had very little influence over the writing of the Napoleonic Code, but what he did enjoy was a great propaganda machine which was able to put forth the message that the regime wanted. The book is meticulously researched, almost a third of the book is devoted to notes and further reading, yet there are points where some things could have been explained better (for example, the treaty of Amiens which ended the war between Britain and France in 1802 is not covered other then in passing, the author assumes you know was in it, nor are the reasons for war breaking out again in 1804 really covered)

This was an enjoyable book and does cast Napoleon in a new light, but for me, it is only one side of the man and should not be considered the only book one has to read about the man.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 April 2015
Philip Dwyer is an authoritative author on the subject of Napoleon, and this is the second volume in his masterly two-volume biography of Napoleon. The book covers the time from Napoleon's coup at Brumaire to his downfall after Waterloo. A lot of action is packed into those sixteen years, and it is a remarkable journey that is charted through the book.

From Corsican general to Emperor of France, Napoleon's life was rather meteoric. He rose in a shining light, and fell to earth with a heavy thud. But it is the course of his journey that is so enthralling and interesting, even some two hundred years later. How did he apparently convince an entire nation (or enough of its citizens that it made a difference) to give him ultimate power? How did he create such a vast Empire, take over so much land, control so many peoples, stave off so many enemy armies, for so long? And why, where, when, and how did it all then go wrong for him?

Throughout, the author has stayed fairly closely to a chronological narrative, with background as required to bring the reader up to speed with what we needed to know to understand Napoleon's motivations. There is a close attention, necessarily, to military action. But there is also a very interesting analysis throughout of the use to which Napoleon put culture and propaganda in order to bolster and propagate his image to his people. I was left with the impression that Napoleon would have been a quite remarkable man, in whatever time he was born. He had an aura, a charisma, that marks some people out for special note in history.

The author's writing style is utterly engaging and the narrative of this book, like the first one in the two-volume biography, flows wonderfully, making for a totally enthralling reading experience. There are a number of photos of paintings etc throughout the book, which unfortunately are in black and white. I found the maps very useful, but it would have been good to know they were coming up and on what pages. As it was, I bookmarked them as I found them so that I could refer to them while reading the relevant text on Napoleon's movements and battles. The only other quibble I have is minor, but it would have been nice to have a brief Epilogue at the end of the book, just outlining Napoleon's last years. Instead, we left him with his last view of France as he sailed past the island of Ushant on the Bellerophon, on his way to his final exile.
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on 1 January 2014
I read this weighty volume of 560 pages in a little over three weeks and as with Professor Dwyer's first Volume of Napoleon's life I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The author's style makes easy reading and what comes across in the text is generally not a very flattering portrait of Napoleon as Consul or Emperor. Professor Dwyer attributes most of Napoleon's actions, whether in victory or defeat, as being carried out mainly by self interest. He does acknowledge Napoleon's genius in some battles but suggests that Napoleon was lucky in others even though he notes Napoleon claimed that these latter were great victories brought about by his skill alone and although there are detailed accounts of Napoleon's campaigns I would have liked more detail about these major clashes. When it comes to Napoleon's other achievements Professor Dwyer is again less than fulsome in his praise: for instance he attributes the Code Napoleon mainly to the work of others, Napoleon providing only a guiding hand. Finally I found that many of the pictures and engravings reproduced in the text were too dark to make out the detail referred to in the text and it would have been a good idea to include a list of diagrams and maps of the campaigns with page numbers at the beginning of the book so that they could easily have been looked up.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 April 2015
Philip Dwyer is an authoritative author on the subject of Napoleon, and this is the second volume in his masterly two-volume biography of Napoleon. The book covers the time from Napoleon's coup at Brumaire to his downfall after Waterloo. A lot of action is packed into those sixteen years, and it is a remarkable journey that is charted through the book.

From Corsican general to Emperor of France, Napoleon's life was rather meteoric. He rose in a shining light, and fell to earth with a heavy thud. But it is the course of his journey that is so enthralling and interesting, even some two hundred years later. How did he apparently convince an entire nation (or enough of its citizens that it made a difference) to give him ultimate power? How did he create such a vast Empire, take over so much land, control so many peoples, stave off so many enemy armies, for so long? And why, where, when, and how did it all then go wrong for him?

Throughout, the author has stayed fairly closely to a chronological narrative, with background as required to bring the reader up to speed with what we needed to know to understand Napoleon's motivations. There is a close attention, necessarily, to military action. But there is also a very interesting analysis throughout of the use to which Napoleon put culture and propaganda in order to bolster and propagate his image to his people. I was left with the impression that Napoleon would have been a quite remarkable man, in whatever time he was born. He had an aura, a charisma, that marks some people out for special note in history.

The author's writing style is utterly engaging and the narrative of this book, like the first one in the two-volume biography, flows wonderfully, making for a totally enthralling reading experience. There are a number of photos of paintings etc throughout the book, which unfortunately are in black and white. I found the maps very useful, but it would have been good to know they were coming up and on what pages. As it was, I bookmarked them as I found them so that I could refer to them while reading the relevant text on Napoleon's movements and battles. The only other quibble I have is minor, but it would have been nice to have a brief Epilogue at the end of the book, just outlining Napoleon's last years. Instead, we left him with his last view of France as he sailed past the island of Ushant on the Bellerophon, on his way to his final exile.
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on 19 February 2014
This is a peculiar book. Of the 780 odd pages in the hardback edition, over 200 are footnotes. There are footnotes on the footnotes and yet for all the apparent erudition, we still hear on page 391 that the Russians set fire to St. Petersburg as they retreated. Clearly neither the author nor the publisher could be bothered to proofread. There are reams devoted to iconography and every portrait of Napoleon is described in excruciating detail. It is a shame that each is reproduced in grainy black and White so that you cannot see any of what is described. I find it amazing that there is not one colour plate in the whole book; nor is there one decent map; inexcusable for a history of conquest. The military details are perfunctory. The war in Spain is completelyignored. This book is all about Napoleon's management of his own PR. Consequently, there is nothing new or interesting here. I am no wiser about the man or what drove him or even how he stayed in power so long. There are many better books on the subject out there. Don't buy this one
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on 3 February 2016
I saw this book in a second hand book shop and picked it up as I was looking for something to read on the Napoleonic era now that the BBC are dramatising War and Peace. I turned straight to the war of 1812 and lo and behold spotted straightaway the sentence that 'Barclay de Tolly and Bagration were both of German descent'. Anyone who has studied the war of 1812 will know that Prince Michael Andreas Barclay, the Russian Field Marshall and commander of the 1st Russian Army of the West was of SCOTTISH descent from the clan Barclay of Aberdeenshire.He was raised in Estonia as a Lutheran and like many of the Baltic nobility could speak German. As for Pyotr Bagration, it is very well known that he was a GEORGIAN prince and General of the Russian Imperial Army and fatally wounded at Borodino. He is mentioned in War and Peace. Also,quite why they needed to insert 200 pages of footnotes I have no idea. The Peninsular war is totally ignored and while it is true Napoleon did not take direct part in the campaign and relied on his generals to fight it for him (one of the reasons he probably lost) I find this omission totally baffling for a book about one of history's greatest military commanders.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 July 2015
This the second volume in Philip Dwyer's superbly researched and very readable biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, covering the period from 1999-1815, and therefore Napoleon's rise to power, the disaster that was the invasion of Russia, and the subsequent collapse of the French Empire.

The book has been meticulously researched with over 200 pages of references and bibliography, and reads at times like a pace novel. Despite all this, the book left me a little dissatisfied. Dwyer is on the side of the detractors, and tends to attribute all of Napoleon's actions and motivations to a cynical self interest. There are of course entirely different interpretations, and it would be well worth the reader with an interest in Napoleon also reading, for example, 'Napoleon the Great' by Andrew Roberts.
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on 19 July 2015
Not books to read as a novel, but lots of good relevant info and complements my Napoleonic library. Gives an excellent account of a "Man of his Time".
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on 27 August 2014
This is the second volume of the author's account of the epochal career of Napoleon. This biography is not at all blinded by the elan of the period's uniforms nor by the glorious David paintings nor the excitement of revolutionary France nor the whole mythology of the era.

The author is saying, at least by heavy implication, that Bonaparte wrecked the prospect - even the likelihood - of a more democratic and moderate France evolving from the late 1790s, once the period of the Terror had receded into the past.

Without the self-aggrandising opportunism of Napoleon, France might have emerged into a more peaceful type of big hitter in the European politics in the early 1800s, rather than the militarily predatory state headed by Bonaparte.

Thus, if the Brumaire coup had failed or the 'infernal machine' assassination attempt on Napoleon had succeeded, then the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Frenchmen and those of so many other Europeans could have been saved from destruction as a consequence of the Emperor's increasingly insane warmongering.
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