Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal

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Published in association with the American Federation of Arts

The only children's picture book about France's greatest general and eventual emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon achieved countless military victories and unified half a continent; he was a corporal, general, consul, and emperor. The life and career of Napoleon sounds impossible-but it's true. His success, ...
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Overview

Published in association with the American Federation of Arts

The only children's picture book about France's greatest general and eventual emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon achieved countless military victories and unified half a continent; he was a corporal, general, consul, and emperor. The life and career of Napoleon sounds impossible-but it's true. His success, though brilliant, was also short-lived. Robert Burleigh's biography of the Little Corporal, illustrated by period artworks and artifacts, describes the remarkable rise and fall of this charismatic and unusual man.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Pat Sherman
Though technically a picture book, this biography of Napoleon is aimed more towards the middle grades and, indeed, readers of all ages who appreciate great art and good history. Burleigh, an art historian, has already garnered praise for his biographies of Cezanne, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec. This new work should win him further acclaim. His academic background certainly serves him well, for the rich array of illustrations he has chosen makes the book as much a visual as well as a written biography. Few events in Napoleon's life went unrecorded by the artists of his time. Burleigh includes paintings, etchings, drawings, and a wealth of historic political cartoons to document Napoleon's rise from obscurity, his conquest of Europe, defeat at Waterloo, final exile, and decline. The text is terse and proceeds at breakneck speed, which is more-or-less how Napoleon lived. Given the drama of the subject, it would be almost impossible to write a dull history of Napoleon, and Burleigh does not disappoint us. His judicious use of quotes reveals Napoleon to be a master of the aphorism. "In my youth I had illusions. I got rid of them fast," Napoleon once declared. Hardly one for false modesty, he also boasted, "I love power as a musician loves his violin." Yet he was not without insight, conceding that, though "soldiers generally win battles; generals generally get credit for them." Burleigh, himself, serves as an enthusiastic and sympathetic guide to this enigmatic figure. He acknowledges Napoleon's charisma but does not succumb completely to its spell. Was Napoleon "all cold, calculating ambition," he asks the reader, or "a true French patriot?" The question still engenders debate over ahundred and sixty years after the emperor's death. This short, appealing biography whets the appetite for more.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8
In an author's note, Burleigh states that he hopes his book "briefly captures the broad outlines and drama" of Napoleon's life. "Brief" is the operative word. Half of the book's pages are reproductions of color artworks from Napoleon's era. The text, which includes appropriate quotations by and about the French emperor, is extremely condensed. There is neither a chronology nor a glossary; the maps, of Europe in 1812 and today, show countries only. Napoleon is a gorgeous production, lovely to look at, but an abbreviated introduction. Devotees and students writing reports will need to turn to Miriam Greenblatt's Napoleon Bonaparte and Imperial France (Benchmark, 2005), which provides considerably more detail on his life and times.
—Ann W. MooreCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
In his author's note, Burleigh discusses the fascinating unanswered questions about Napoleon, even after countless books and articles have been written about him. Was Napoleon the protector of the ideals of the French Revolution, or simply an ambitious figure out for power? Was he a genius, or did he simply have a knack for being in the right place at the right time? In this unusually attractive volume, clear and lively prose, short chapters, maps and an abundance of large, nicely reproduced paintings by David, Gros, Goya and others combine for an effective, though sketchy, telling of the essential story of Napoleon. Each chapter opens with a quotation in large italicized font, and period engravings and cartoons add to the visual appeal. A fine introduction to Napoleon and his times. (bibliography, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810913783
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.37 (w) x 10.37 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Burleigh has written many acclaimed books for children, among them Seurat and La Grande Jatte which won a prestigious Orbis Pictus Award, and Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest, a Texas Blue Bonnet Master List selection. In a starred review of his book Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and The City of Light, Booklist praised Robert, saying, "Burleigh relates the facts in a way that is comprehensible . . . a lively, accessible introduction to the artist's life and work." He has also written Paul Cézanne: A Painter's Journey, which debuted in mid-2006. A painter as well as a writer, Robert lives with his wife in Chicago.

The American Federation of Arts is a nonprofit institution that organizes art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishes exhibition catalogues, and develops education programs.

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