The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape

The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape

by Mark Braude
The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape

The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape

by Mark Braude


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 “A suspenseful, fast-paced account. . . . Braude’s prose glints with humor and humanity.” —Seattle Times

A gripping narrative history of Napoleon Bonaparte's ten-month exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba

In the spring of 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated. Having overseen an empire spanning half the European continent and governed the lives of some eighty million people, he suddenly found himself exiled to Elba, less than a hundred square miles of territory. This would have been the end of him, if Europe's rulers had had their way. But soon enough Napoleon imposed his preternatural charisma and historic ambition on both his captors and the very island itself, plotting his return to France and to power. After ten months of exile, he escaped Elba with just of over a thousand supporters in tow, marched to Paris, and retook the Tuileries Palace--all without firing a shot. Not long after, tens of thousands of people would die fighting for and against him at Waterloo.

Braude dramatizes this strange exile and improbable escape in granular detail and with novelistic relish, offering sharp new insights into a largely overlooked moment. He details a terrific cast of secondary characters, including Napoleon's tragically-noble official British minder on Elba, Neil Campbell, forever disgraced for having let "Boney" slip away; and his young second wife, Marie Louise who was twenty-two to Napoleon's forty-four, at the time of his abdication. What emerges is a surprising new perspective on one of history's most consequential figures, which both subverts and celebrates his legendary persona.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735222625
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 677,433
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mark Braude has been a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer at Stanford University and was named a 2017 Public Scholar by the National Endowment for the Humanities. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Republic. His first book, Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle was published in 2016. Mark lives in Vancouver with his wife.

Table of Contents

Maps xvi

Introduction xix


1 The Morning of the Poison Lump 3

2 A Lodger in His Own Life 11

3 Napoleon in Rags 20

4 This New Country 27

5 Gilded Keys 37

6 Rough Music 42

7 The Robinson Crusoe of Elba 48

8 My Island Is Very Little 54

9 Louis the Gouty and the Weathervane Man 59

10 Pretty Valleys, Trees, Forest, and Water 65

11 The Emperor Is Dead 72

12 And Every Tuna Bows to Him 77

13 A Death, a Treaty, and a Celebration 83

14 A Ridiculous Noise 88


15 The More Unfavorably Does He Appear 97

16 Ubicumque Felix Napoleon 102

17 Sirocco 108

18 Sultry Confinement 112

19 The One-Eyed Count 117

20 A Perfectly Bourgeois Simplicity 122

21 Tall Fanny and the Two Empresses Bonaparte 127

22 Taking the Cure 130

23 Tourist Season 133

24 The Politics of Forgetting 142


25 He Is Tolerably Happy 151

26 The Vulgar Details of Married Lives 156

27 Don Giovanni, Cinderella, and Undine 161

28 I Think He Is Capable of Crossing Over 166

29 The Oil Merchant and Other Visitors 170

30 He Had Been Called Coward! 175


31 A Last Goodbye 181

32 The Sadness of My Retirement 183

33 The (Near) Wreck of the Inconstant 185

34 Bourbon Difficulties 189

35 Nights at the Theater 194

36 Pietro St. Ernest, Otherwise Known as Fleury du Chaboulon 198

37 The Eagle Prepares for Flight 204

38 The Oil Merchant Returns 206

39 Campbell in Florence 208

40 Mardi Gras 212

41 Tower of Babel 216

42 Everything Was Quiet at Elba 221

43 Inconstant 225

44 At Sea 230

45 Campbell Lands at Elba 236

46 Our Beautiful France 243

47 The Partridge in Pursuit 246

48 Golfe-Juan 248

49 Most Reluctantly I Have Felt Called Upon to Mention It 252

50 In an Iron Cage 254

51 Urgent 256

52 Laffrey 261

53 To Contemplate All Objects at a Certain Angle 263

Epilogue: Napoleon, Marie Louise, Campbell, and Elba 266

Postscript 277

Acknowledgments 281

A Note on Sources 282

Notes 283

Bibliography 333

Index 351

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