One Hundred Days / Edition 1

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On February 26, 1815, Napoleon, exiled Emperor of France--now dressed in a simple green uniform as Colonel of the Grenadiers--stepped aboard the brig L'Inconstant to the wildly enthusiastic cheers of his Elban subjects. Three days later, having barely avoided a British warship and a French naval vessel loyal to the Crown, the L'Inconstant traded the white flag of Elba for the French Tricolor as the rocky coast of the Cap d'Antibes came into view. With his return to French soil, accompanied only by a small force of one thousand men, Napoleon had set into motion the momentous events that would, over the next one hundred days, propel Europe once again into total war, ending only with the routing at Waterloo of the seemingly invincible Grande Armee, and Napoleon's final exile on St. Helena.
In One Hundred Days, Alan Schom offers us an epic tale of intrigue, high drama, and ultimate tragedy. By turns harrowing and exhilarating--and always charged with an undercurrent of impending doom--One Hundred Days is nothing less than the definitive account of Napoleon's final campaign, told with the characteristic panache of one of our premier narrative historians. Landing unopposed near Cannes, Napoleon and his tiny army began their march through a hostile countryside impoverished by years of war, famine, and conscription. But gradually, thanks mainly to the Emperor's legendary charisma, thousands of men joined his ranks, swelling the force to nearly 20,000 soldiers. By the time these impressive columns reached Paris, Louis XVIII had fled the city and only crowds and parades remained to greet Napoleon's seemingly inevitable return to power. But fate was against him this time: the allies, stunned by what appeared to be a remarkable reversal of fortune, were already on the move. All roads now led to Waterloo.
Besides being a lively and detailed look at Napoleon's final months as one of the most feared--and revered--men in Europe, One Hundred Days also offers vivid portraits of the many complex and fascinating personalities who surrounded him. Schom has mined a rich trove of little-known diaries, memoirs, military dispatches, and letters to allow this diverse cast of characters, whenever possible, to speak for themselves. He brings to life in compelling fashion all of Napoleon's generals, his enemies, his ministers, even the common soldiers who fought in the apocalyptic showdown in Belgium. And, of course, there is the omnipresent, titanic figure of Napoleon himself, readying the invasion, mustering troops, and, amid the frenzy and confusion of the final battle, coming to the agonizing realization that all was over. "We have taken Napoleon's hat," wrote Metternich to his daughter a few days after Waterloo, "It is to be hoped that we will now end in capturing the man himself." Within a month, the defeated Emperor was aboard the English frigate Bellerophon bound for exile, and thus dropped, in Marshal Ney's words, "the final curtain of the Napoleonade."
More than an account of one of the formative events in modern European history, this book adds a human dimension to a story that has, over the years, assumed mythic proportions.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schon ( Trafalgar ) writes of Napoleon's escape from Elba in February 1815 and his return ``like a thunderbolt'' to France. Rallying the nation behind him, he mustered his army and marched off to meet Wellington at Waterloo. Schon describes the extraordinary logistical feat carried out jointly by War Minister Louis Davout and Interior Minister Lazare Carnot while Napoleon himself concentrated on mobilizing the troops. Waterloo was a crushing defeat, to be sure, but Schon argues that Napoleon's basic plan of campaign was a good one. The main problem, he maintains, was that the senior army commanders (marshals Soult, Ney and Grouchy) either disobeyed Napoleon's orders or deliberately hindered their execution. No admirer of Bonaparte, Schon describes how, ``in utter defiance of the facts,'' his reputation rebounded after his death and developed into the Napoleon myth. This is a first-class reconstruction of Napoleon's final campaign. Illustrations. Paperback rights to Oxford. (Sept.)
Library Journal
General readers will enjoy this detailed and engagingly written account of an epic historical drama: Napoleon's escape from the island prison of Elba and vainglorious attempt to re-establish his throne in defiance of international accords. Popular historian Schom ( Trafalgar , LJ 11/15/90) speculates on Napoleon's motives; describes in detail the personalities of other key players, including the obese and ineffective King Louis XVIII; traces the Napo leonic regime's devastating effects on France; and evaluates the extent of both the hostility toward and support for the returned Emperor. Most importantly, the author frankly and honestly assesses the obstacles Napoleon faced in re-establishing his army, reorganizing his government, and consolidating his hold on a nation ravaged by and weary of war. This popular work does not pretend to offer new historical analyses or perspectives--just a fascinating and gripping narrative.-- Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195081770
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Schom is the author of Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle, 1803-1805 and Emile Zola: A Biography. He is former professor of modern French history and is a Fellow of the Hoover Institution.

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Table of Contents

I "Ile du Repos" 1
II The Sovereign of the Island of Elba 12
III "The Disturber of the Peace of the World" 34
IV The Brothers Bonaparte 57
V A Deadly Enemy 85
VI "The Most Wretched of All Professions" 107
VII A Land in Turmoil 127
VIII "Neither Peace Nor Truce" 160
IX Mobilization 192
X "Pour la Patrie" 221
XI Eve of Battle 241
XII Waterloo 262
XIII End of the Napoleonade 295
Epilogue 320
App. I. Chronology of Events 323
App. II. The Thirty-Two Military Divisions of Metropolitan France and Conquered Territories 325
App. III. Napoleon's Abdication Declaration, 22 June 1815 326
App. IV. Command Structure of French and Allied Armies at Waterloo 326
App. V. Napoleon's March on Paris, 1-20 March 1815 330
Bibliography 331
Notes 339
Index 385
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