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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
"A joy to read . . . Attractive, well written and, on occasion, pleasantly idiosyncratic . . . A splendid book."
"Deft, authoritative, often strikingly counterintuitive, this is the definitive word on the subject."
-Telegraph (UK), Books of the Year
Posted January 30, 2010
I am an avid reader of military histories and felt that this book might "fill in some gaps" in my general knowledge of the time period in Europe.
It is the first book on military history that I said "enough" after slogging through the first 200 pages. The author makes a conclusion at the beginning of the book and then proceeds to spend the ensuing pages justifying his conclusion. He assumes his reader is well versed in the time period and has read other works(which he implicitly disparages). The general tenor of the book is that of "talking down" to the reader and fails to convey any sense of caring whether the reader is interested or not.
There have been a great number of wonderful books on the topic of military history......this definitely isn't one of them.
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Posted January 23, 2010
Esdaile clearly knows his stuff. Very informative, in-depth study of Napoleonic Europe. This book is a must read for anyone with even a glancing interest in Napoleon.
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2013
As I studied under Günther Rothenberg, I had somewhat of a background on Napoleon from the military strategic and tactical standpoint. As I am studying the German wars of unification, I sought this book to give some background in Europe in the early 19th century. If you are into diplomatic and political history, this is a good book. If you are looking for background on military affairs, this book is not for you. I do agree with both the postings of January 30, 2010 and January 23 of the same year--Esdaille does seem to know his material well and does go into more detail than a novice reader is capable of conceptualizing. It is more for the specialist, and I would leave it to a specialist to evaluate the quality and organization of the material here.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2011
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