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Napoleon: The Path to Power, 1769-1799

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Solid history -- no images

    I was previously quite ignorant about Napoleon. I'm not quite sure why I picked a book that is very specifically about Napoleon's rise to power rather than his overall impact on European history. Nevertheless, it was a great read and I wish Dwyer had a part two ready. Particularly, Dwyer shows how Napoleon was able to better take advantage of media than his rivals to gain prominence among the French public. I came away with a sense of Napoleon's rise resulting not just from some martial success and propaganda, but also simple luck and timing. The description of the actual coup was striking in how inept Napoleon himself seemed and how he relied on a network of supporters.

    Some cons -- the ending point of this book seems odd to me. If the purpose of the book is to chart Napoleon's path to power, then why stop before he is emperor?

    And one con that applies to the ebook specifically is the lack of images. Maps remain, but there are no prints of paintings or engravings. Considering how much the book discusses such images as key to Napoleon's popularity, I found it very frustrating to not be able to actual see the images being described. (one star off for this -- i would give 4 otherwise).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    Astute Opportunism: Bonaparte┬┐s Marching Order for Supreme Command

    In ¿Napoleon: The Path To Power,¿ Philip Dwyer successfully brings to life the first three decades in the existence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Readers who have a pre-existing knowledge of Bonaparte and his time will be the ones who will benefit the most from reading Dwyer¿s book. To his credit, Dwyer neither glorifies nor demonizes Bonaparte. Dwyer clearly explores the contradictions in the character of Bonaparte. Bonaparte started as a Corsican nationalist, then morphed into a servant of the French Revolution, and ended up as an imperialist who became supremely confident in his own personal destiny. Bonaparte transformed himself into what he has been remembered for because of his unmatched exploitation of the opportunities that he saw before him. Dwyer also shows with much conviction the active role that Bonaparte played in his own mythmaking. Although Bonaparte was talented, intelligent, and passionate, he was also a ruthless man. Bonaparte regarded people as pawns in his political and military calculations, to get rid of if they could no longer be useful. As Dwyer observes with much pertinence, that callousness towards the lives of others is not unusual in the character of a leading public personality. The more power a public figure amasses, the greater the indifference he / she will often display. To summarize, ¿Napoleon: The Path To Power¿ is a nice addition to the library of any person fond of history.

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