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In direct contrast to Gen. Michel Franceschi and Ben Weider's Wars Against Napoleon: Debunking the Myth of the Napoleonic Wars, which claimed that Napoleon was a pacifistic victim of circumstances, comes a book that makes no attempt to hide his insatiable lust for military glory and, thus, power. Yet Esdaile (history, Univ. of Liverpool; The Peninsular War) does offer a distinct approach by writing a history of these wars that is not simply Francocentric but reflects the full European dimension of the conflicts. So the reader gets not only fresh information on such disparate actions as the Serbian revolt of 1804 and the Eastern and Ottoman fronts but a better understanding of the time period as a whole and Napoleon's historical place in it. Esdaile argues that the Napoleon we see today is the product of a very efficient propaganda machine begun on St. Helena by the emperor himself. Using contemporary sources describing the little Corsican, his resulting myth-busting portrait rings true. Placed within the author's panoramic view of the wars that spread so quickly across the European continent, it's a study that makes a compelling read. Recommended for all libraries.
—David Lee Poremba
Posted October 15, 2010
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