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'The second in Rambaud's Napoleonic trilogy deals with the most traumatic event in French history after the Occupation -- Napoleon's retreat from Moscow' Guardian As Rambaud's characters -- D'Herbigny, Paulin and others -- continue the story begun in The Battle, The Retreat unfolds as a convincing and gripping account of a country at war; a mesmerizing and tense drama spun from the story of the French retreat. Told with great narrative flair, precision and vivid detail, Rambaud's account of dire human suffering is both horrific and compelling; a striking testament to the extremes of human behaviour in adversity. 'A chance to get the French version of events' Guardian
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Patrick Rambaud was a founder of Actuel in 1970. Alone or in collaboration he has written over thirty books, parodies and novels.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Second in Rambaud's Napoleonic trilogy, this installment chronicles the emperor's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812. The book opens as the imperial army, having lost three-quarters of its men on the icy, disease-ravaged march from France, approaches the gates of Moscow, where Napoleon imagines he will rest for the winter, hosted by the conquered czar. Instead, he finds a city emptied of people, food and soldiers—a cold and desolate hell. As in his previous novel, The Battle, Rambaud chooses a few characters to tell the story. Young Sebastian Roque sees nothing romantic about warfare; Captain d'Herbigny, on the other hand, adores military pomp and wishes only for a heroic return to Normandy. Napoleon himself has lost sight of reality, and declares, "This winter we will levy fresh contingents to reinforce us and then we will march on St. Petersburg... or India." But there are no fresh contingents coming nor any food to feed the men who remain. They have no choice but to return to France, facing cold, starvation and disease. Rambaud has a knack for wry pathos that keeps the book from bogging down in horror—a hungry d'Herbigny ties his loose pants up with strings of looted pearls. As one of the most famous military debacles in history, Napoleon's awful march to and from Moscow is riveting, and Rambaud brings a keen immediacy to the harrowing events.
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