With Napoleon in Russia: The Illustrated Memoirs of Major Faber Du Faur, 1812

Overview

This handsome book is a unique record of Napoleon's invasion of Russia by Faber du Faur, a talented artist and front-line soldier. It combines his detailed, accurate and compelling illustrations of scenes recorded as they actually happened with his vivid and gripping memoirs of the campaign. The result is a superb and remarkably detailed evocation of 1812, from the sweeping battle scenes which capture the ordeal of Smolensk and Borodino, to the day-to-day struggle to keep campfires burning and famished men fed. ...

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2006 new never opened Stilton original shrinkwrap All of our products are cleaned with an disinfectant for your protection before shipping AND AS ALWAYS SHIPPED IN 24 HOURS

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London, England 2006 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 208 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Overview

This handsome book is a unique record of Napoleon's invasion of Russia by Faber du Faur, a talented artist and front-line soldier. It combines his detailed, accurate and compelling illustrations of scenes recorded as they actually happened with his vivid and gripping memoirs of the campaign. The result is a superb and remarkably detailed evocation of 1812, from the sweeping battle scenes which capture the ordeal of Smolensk and Borodino, to the day-to-day struggle to keep campfires burning and famished men fed. Faber du Faur's plates - admired and highly-regarded primary source material - are here presented, for the first time, complete and in full color. His moving and frank memoirs, edited and translated by Jonathan North, are accompanied by a detailed campaign history and biography of the artist. Napoleon's invasion of Russia is a legendary campaign and a captivating story of endurance, survival and the rigors of total war. Few of the 500,000 men to cross the Niemen in July 1812 were to survive - the French army was decimated by the advance into the heart of Russia, and almost completely destroyed in the epic retreat from Moscow. With Napoleon in Russia is a unique presentation of this epic and an unforgettable depiction of the horrors of war.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Stuttgart-born career soldier Christian Wilhelm von Faber du Faur (1780-1857) served for years in the Napoleonic army, like a vast number of able-bodied mercenaries of his day. Also an amateur artist, Faber du Faur drew sketches of what he saw on the campaigns, and these were reproduced in colored plates in varied editions through his lifetime, with various texts in German and French. Popular military historian North (In the Legions of Napoleon, etc.) has translated prose captions from one of Faber du Faur's editions. (Other editions included poetry, making this a debatable choice.) The 92 plates are very much by an amateur artist, someone dedicated to showing detail, but stiffly, without emotiveness. Yet any fan of "outsider" art will feel their strange immediacy, as if the artist were struggling toward an impossible objectivity. Like the images, the clinical tone of the captions seems at some distance from actuality; sometimes terse and clearly translated throughout, they lack personality, going instead for deadpan comments like: "The bodies had been exposed to the burning heat of the summer sun, and they were rotting." Caveats aside, the historical charge of these drawings is enough to justify this release, and their peculiar power more than makes up for any shortcomings in the glosses. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781853674549
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 13.13 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
Whenever anyone mentions 1812, it's not normally the Anglo-American War or Louisiana joining the Union that springs to mind. In fact, it's usually Tchaikovsky's brilliant overture. It's superb music and it tells an amazing story -- one of a vast and confident army marching into the depths of Russia, never to return.

And that's really what Napoleon's invasion was: the story of a vast, invincible host -- reduced by hardship and want, wounded in battle, and destroyed in the merciless cold of a Russian winter. The French emperor assembled one of the largest armies Europe had ever seen for his great enterprise -- some half million veteran soldiers from every corner of Europe, gathering on the borders of Russia in June 1812. Six months later, 20,000 exhausted survivors returned, dragging frostbitten limbs and clad in rags and furs. A year after that, Napoleon's empire collapsed. How the mighty had indeed fallen.

Aside from music, we must rely on written records to bring to life a series of events that took place nearly two centuries ago. The best way to experience the trials and tribulations of Napoleon's doomed troops is probably by reading eyewitness accounts. Many have been written (although comparatively few have appeared in English), and they vary from simple, honest tales to the self-glorifying ramblings of retired generals.

Christian von Faber du Faur's account is honest -- and all the more touching for it. He was a junior officer in a German division of 12,000 men, of which only 200 returned home, and he marched all the way to Moscow -- witnessing the famous burning of the Russian capital -- and staggered all the way back. Faber du Faur's account is now published as With Napoleon in Russia, and it is a special, unique account. Faber du Faur wasn't just an ordinary soldier; he was also a talented artist. He doesn't just capture the experience in words: He produced a series of startling images as well.

Despite his many duties, Faber du Faur found time to sit and sketch and draw the scenes around him: historical events, troops on the march, dead bodies, gutted buildings, the gleaming domes of Moscow before the fire took hold, officers and comrades. He was still sketching in November 1812, despite the snow and glacial winds howling around him. These sketches are now reproduced, for the very first time, in With Napoleon in Russia. When the artist returned from Russia, he did what any conscientious artist should do: He worked his sketches into full-blown paintings, and 93 of these paintings are now presented, in colour, in this amazing book.

These three elements (sketches, paintings, and memoirs) make With Napoleon in Russia more than just an everyday account of those terrible events. Looking at the paintings, comparing them to the simple sketches actually done on the campaign, and reading the text gives us a unique insight into the terrible experience of half a million men. There has never been a book like it on 1812, and it is probably as close as we'll get to experiencing one of history's greatest human catastrophes. (Jonathan North)

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