Synopses & Reviews
Napoleon as a man of war was perhaps the cause of more men's deaths than any other martial leader before him. As Timothy Wilson-Smith writes in his introduction, "The paths of glory Napoleon trod led possibly one million Frenchmen, and maybe as many as four million men from other lands, to their graves." His peacetime accomplishments, however, still stand. Indeed, some credit him with having a vision for a united Europe that has been achieved with the European Union. In meticulous, sometimes harrowing detail, Wilson-Smith surveys Napoleon's liberation of the continent from the old social order and the chaos he caused through years of warfare. Across Europe, in the wake of his armies, villages and cities were destroyed by cannon and fire, and thousands of people turned into refugees. The men who eventually brought Napoleon down, chief among them Castlereagh and Metternich, had a fear of social unrest and an innate conservatism. They failed to grasp that one of Napoleon's most remarkable gifts was bringing about social changes that would outlive his own defeat. Against the horrors of Napoleon's wars, Wilson-Smith outlines such public achievements as the Code Napoleon. Similarly, a passion for the arts led Napoleon to become a great patron of David, Ingres and Gros, and to create various societies and learned institutions that continue in his name. Capturing these contradictions, Napoleon: Man of War, Man of Peace reveals him to have been a man of truly impressive stature. Sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs add to this illuminating and lucid biography that uniquely separates and compares the Emperor's achievements in war and his legacy in peacetime.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-291) and index.