Academic journal article Military Review

NAPOLEON: A Political Life

Academic journal article Military Review

NAPOLEON: A Political Life

Article excerpt

NAPOLEON: A Political Life, Steven Englund, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004, 474 pages, $35.00.

In the modern biographical literature on Napoleon Bonaparte that has stood the test of time are David G. Chandler's comprehensive The Campaigns of Napoleon (Scribner, New York, 1973) and Felix Markham's cogent biographical masterpiece Napoleon (Signet Books, New York, 1988).

Former Marshall Scholar Steven Englund notes in his beautifully written book Napoleon: A Political Life that the allure of Napoleon the military phenomenon has tended to overwhelm our interest in Napoleon the politician, despite the huge effect Napoleon's political activities had in their day (and continue to have in our own). Englund emphasizes that his book reinterprets Napoleon as a modern political phenomenon because Napoleon is the archetype of the modern political man.

Englund returns to the pro and con of the debate about Napoleon's political stature, which he sees as an attempt either to further elevate Napoleon's divine status or whittle him down to size. …

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