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Dwyer (modern history, Univ. of Newcastle, Australia; Napoleon and Europe) offers a thorough and engrossing examination of Napoleon Bonaparte's meteoric rise to power. He follows Napoleone di Buonaparte (who changed his name in 1796) from his birth in Corsica (1769) until the coup d'A©tat of 18 Brumaire (1799). The result is a truly human portrait of a man who claimed to be larger than life. Dwyer stresses that Napoleon was born into a clannish Corsican family heavily involved in the island's political intrigues and that his familial experiences served him well in the turbulent times of revolutionary France. Unraveling many of the myths connected with the early campaigns in northern Italy and Egypt, Dwyer shows that self-promotion was the engine driving Napoleon. He was a gifted political animal who skillfully embellished his early military achievements to create an aura of predestined greatness. These themes are not new (see, e.g., Stephen Englund's Napoleon: A Political Life), but they have never been explored in such detail. This first of a projected two-volume study will give the specialist or any interested reader a much deeper understanding of one of the most fascinating figures in world history and is essential for all Napoleonic collections.