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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Overview

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

“Gripping . . . 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 a masterful dual narrative that pits the heights of human ambition and achievement against the supremacy of nature, New York Times bestselling author Stephan Talty tells the story of a mighty ruler and a tiny microbe, antagonists whose struggle would shape 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 to his knees.

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 emperor’s vaunted military brilliance suddenly seemed useless, and when the Russians put their own occupied capital to the torch, the campaign became a desperate race through the frozen landscape as troops continued to die by the thousands. Through it all, with tragic heroism, Napoleon’s disease-ravaged, freezing, starving men somehow rallied, again and again, to cries of “Vive l’Empereur!”

Yet Talty’s sweeping tale takes us far beyond the doomed heroics and bloody clashes of the battlefield. 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307459756
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 06/02/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 607,268
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

STEPHAN TALTY is a widely published journalist who has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water and Mulatto America: At the Crossroads of Black and White Culture.


From the Hardcover edition.

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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The Illustrious Dead 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
anthonyj More than 1 year ago
a very unique and interesting account of napoleans failed conquest of russia in 1812.the depictions of an army in the midst of both battle and typhus and the impact on each was well presented and surprisingly entertaining
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