Synopses & Reviews
The very name, Napoleon Bonaparte, still enthralls. Ever since this towering and terrible genius conquered Europe, he has been endlessly debated, compared, and made an icon. In Napoleon
, the great dictator's energy and acumen are matched by those of his biographer, Paul Johnson, whose histories have been lauded as "fresh, readable, provocative . . . wise" (Los Angeles Times
). Here Johnson profiles "the grandest possible refutation of those who hold that events are governed by forces, classes, economics, and geography rather than the powerful wills of men and women."
With masterly eloquence, Napoleon charts Bonaparte's career from the barren island of Corsica and his early training in Paris-he was a bold soldier with an uncanny gift for math, maps, and strategy-through high-profile victories in Italy, military dictatorship, and campaigns across Europe to his end on the forsaken isle of St. Helena. In Napoleon's insatiable hunger for power, Johnson sees a realist unfettered by patriotism or ideology, a brilliant opportunist and propagandist who fulfilled his ambition in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He interprets Napoleon's life in the trajectory of his times, revealing how his complex and violent legacy seeded totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century and sounds an alert to us in the twenty-first.
"The selection of the venerable British historian and right-wing gadfly Paul Johnson to write on Napoleon (who has been the subject of more biographies to date than any other human being except Jesus Christ) has turned out to be a wise one: Johnson is succinct, critical, and deeply skeptical of the Napoleonic legend." Brooke Allen, Atlantic Monthly
(read the entire Atlantic review
"A prolific and popular historian, Johnson provides an excellent overview. In what amounts to an extended essay, this volume in the Penguin Lives series presents a concise appraisal of Napoleon's career and a precise understanding of his enigmatic character." Booklist
"Why another biography of Napoleon now?...Napoleon's is a grandly cautionary life....Johnson's antiromantic treatment brings into sharp focus the ills he identifies with "Bonapartism," and that focus certainly justifies this new look at the much-studied old general." Library Journal
"...a near-perfect model of what a brief book can and should be: crisp, clear and strongly personal." Book Magazine
Praise for Napoleon by Paul Johnson:
“Paul Johnson . . . is a historian at the top his game. His judgments are sure. His historical range is sweeping. His storytelling is crisp and his writing elegant.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“The selection of the venerable British historian . . . Paul Johnson to write on Napoleon . . . has turned out to be a wise one: Johnson is succinct, critical, and deeply skeptical of the Napoleonic legend.”
—The Atlantic Monthly
“This is a jewel of a book; comprehensive, brief, and passionate.”
“Johnson provides an excellent overview . . . [He] presents a concise appraisal of Napoleons career and a precise understanding of his enigmatic character.”
“[A] succinct yet lively biography . . . very readable and entertaining.”
—The Washington Post
With masterly eloquence, a bestselling historian offers a searching portrait of a man who shaped history and cast his shadow over two centuries.
From New York Times bestselling author Paul Johnson, a very readable and entertaining biography” (The Washington Post) about one of the most important figures in modern European history: Napoleon Bonaparte
In an ideal pairing of author and subject, the magisterial historian Paul Johnson offers a vivid look at the life of the strategist, general, and dictator who conquered much of Europe. Following Napoleon from the barren island of Corsica to his early training in Paris, from his meteoric victories and military dictatorship to his exile and death, Johnson examines the origins of his ferocious ambition. In Napoleon's quest for power, Johnson sees a realist unfettered by patriotism or ideology. And he recognizes Bonapartes violent legacy in the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Napoleon is a magnificent work that bears witness to one individual's ability to work his will on history.
About the Author
Paul Johnson's many books, including A History of Christianity, A History of the Jews, Modern Times, Churchill, and Napoleon: A Penguin Life, have been hailed as masterpieces of historical analysis. He is a regular columnist for Forbes and The Spectator, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many others publications. He lives in London.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Corsican Background
Chapter Two: Revolutionary, General, Consul, Emperor
Chapter Three: The Master of the Battlefield
Chapter Four: The Flawed and Fragile Empire
Chapter Five: The Graveyards of Europe
Chapter Six: Elba and Waterloo
Chapter Seven: The Long Good-bye