Napoleon: A Biography

Napoleon: A Biography

Frank McLynn

Language: English

Pages: 767

ISBN: 1611450373

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Napoleon: A Biography

Frank McLynn

Language: English

Pages: 767

ISBN: 1611450373

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“A brilliant biography which will surely become a classic life of Napoleon.”—The Times [London]
Author McLynn explores the Promethean legend from his Corsican roots, through the chaotic years of the French Revolution and his extraordinary military triumphs, to the coronation in 1804, to his fatal decision in 1812 to add Russia to his seemingly endless conquests, and his ultimate defeat, imprisonment, and death in Saint Helena. McLynn aptly reveals the extent to which Napoleon was both existential hero and plaything of fate, mathematician and mystic, intellectual giant and moral pygmy, great man and deeply flawed human being.

As Napoleon’s obsession with his family surfaces and his conviction that every man has his price, the emperor emerges as a figure closer to a modern Mafia godfather than a visionary European. In this work, McLynn brings the reader, as never before, closer to understanding the much mythologized Napoleon. 16 black-and-white illustrations

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to social control. He played off every class and social grouping against every other, and manipulated divisions within and between the strata: the urban proletariat, the petit-bourgeoisie, and the clergy were particular victims of his Machiavellianism but he dealt with recalcitrant lawyers, generals and financiers in essentially the same way. It will be clear enough from the foregoing that in no sense can Napoleon be considered an heir of the French Revolution and its principles. It is possible

to the Atlantic. In theory his ships had access to the Baltic and the North Seas, the Mediterranean and the Aegean. It has been customary ever since to make a threefold distinction in the Napoleonic Empire: there were the lands within the ‘natural frontiers’, the so-called pays réunis; the states ruled by other members of the Bonaparte family, otherwise known as the pays conquis; and the nominally independent satellite states or pays alliés. This neat classification conceals many rough edges. In

with flanks protected by MacDonald’s corps at Riga and Schwarzenberg’s Austrian corps at Minsk; this would also allow him to cut off Bagration if the Russians took the offensive. These were minimum aims, but there were also ‘best-case scenario’ maximum aims in the Emperor’s mind. He planned to engage Barclay’s army by pushing forward with the left flank while falling back with the right. Barclay would presumably then fall back and move south to avoid encirclement, but would be unable to link

the Cossacks. Napoleon dismissed it as a bagatelle and spent the 3rd of December composing his 29th bulletin, a précis of the campaign, which admitted some part of the disaster but played up Borodino, Krasnyi, Beresina, Ney’s wanderings after Smolesnsk and all other heroic exploits of the Grande Armée. This was the Emperor’s last contribution to the 1812 campaign for, at Smorgoni at 10 p.m. on 5 December, he left the Army, pleading the necessity of getting back to Paris with all speed. For

involved in October 1795. Not really pretty, past the bloom of youth, with no outstandingly good features and with teeth so bad and blackened (they were described as being ‘like cloves’) that she had trained herself to smile without showing them, Rose de Beauharnais was at best a jolie laide. Some descriptions make her sound like a southern belle of the pre-American Civil War type: she had fine, silky, chestnut hair, magnetic dark-blue eyes and long lashes. She had trained herself to be sexy:

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