This Very Short Introduction might prove disappointing to those expecting an introduction to a very short man. Dispelling the myth of Napoleon Bonaparte's short stature, as well as the other rumors and legends, David Bell provides a concise, accurate, and lively portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte's character and career, situating him firmly in historical context.
This book emphasizes the astonishing sense of human possibility--for both good and ill--that Napoleon represented. By his late twenties, Napoleon was already one of the greatest generals in European history. At thirty, he had become absolute master of Europe's most powerful country. In his early forties, he ruled a European empire more powerful than any since Rome, fighting wars that changed the shape of the continent and brought death to millions. Then everything collapsed, leading him to spend his last years in miserable exile in the South Atlantic.
Bell underscores the importance of the French Revolution in understanding Napoleon's career. The revolution made possible the unprecedented concentration of political authority that Napoleon accrued, and his success in mobilizing human and material resources. Without the political changes brought about by the revolution, Napoleon could not have fought his wars. Without the wars, he could not have seized and held onto power. Though his virtual dictatorship betrayed the ideals of liberty and equality, his life and career were revolutionary.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
List of illustrationsIntroduction1. The Corsican, 1769-17962. The General, 1796-17993. The First Consul, 1799-18044. The Emperor, 1804-18125. Downfall, 1812-1815Epilogue: 1815-2015ReferencesIndex