Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon's Greatest Army

Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon's Greatest Army

by Stephan Talty

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A masterful dual narrative of Napoleon Bonaparte and a tiny microbe that pits the height of human ambition and achievement against the supremacy of nature, from the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water
“Gripping . . . Talty brings international politics and science together in a compelling story of personal hubris and humbling defeat.”—Jack Weatherford, author of the New York Times bestseller Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
In the spring of 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte was at the height of his powers. Forty-five million called him emperor, and he commanded a nation that was the richest, most cultured, and advanced on earth. No army could stand against his impeccably trained, brilliantly led forces, and his continued sweep across Europe seemed inevitable.
Early that year, bolstered by his successes, Napoleon turned his attentions toward Moscow, helming the largest invasion in human history. Surely, Tsar Alexander’s outnumbered troops would crumble against this mighty force. But another powerful and ancient enemy awaited Napoleon’s men in the Russian steppes. Virulent and swift, this microscopic foe would bring the emperor’s progress to a halt. Even as the Russians retreated before him in disarray, Napoleon found his army disappearing, his frantic doctors powerless to explain what had struck down a hundred thousand soldiers.
The Illustrious Dead delves deep into the origins of the pathogen that finally ended the mighty emperor’s dreams of world conquest and exposes this “war plague’s” hidden role throughout history. A tale of two unstoppable forces meeting on the road to Moscow in an epic clash of killer microbe and peerless army, The Illustrious Dead is a historical whodunit in which a million lives hang in the balance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307459756
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/02/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,150,419
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Stephen Talty is the award-winning author of Agent Garbo, Empire of Blue Water, and other bestselling works of narrative nonfiction. His books have been made into two films, the Oscar-winning Captain Phillips and Only the Brave. He is also the author of two psychological thrillers, including the New York Times bestseller Black Irish, set in his hometown of Buffalo. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, and many other publications. Talty now lives outside New York City with his family.

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae: Command Structures and Coalitions xiv

Introduction: Old Bones 3

1 Incarnate 7

2 A Portable Metropolis 21

3 Drumbeat 35

4 Crossing 46

5 Pursuit 58

6 Smolensk 70

7 The Sound of Flames 80

8 Smoke 100

9 At Borodino 110

10 Clash 130

11 The Hospital 157

12 The Last City 172

13 Decision 192

14 Two Roads 205

15 Graveyard Trees 225

Epilogue: Rendezvous in Germany 253

Author's Note: The Doorway of the Hospital at Tunis 267

Glossary 277

Notes 279

Sources 297

Acknowledgments 303

Index 305

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