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In The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, the second and final volume of Robert Asprey's cradle-to-grave biography, the author expands upon the encompassing portrayal of Napoleon-child, man, general, lover, husband, king, emperor, father, conqueror, statesman, and, finally, prisoner-that he developed in volume one. Asprey gives us more of the personality and passion that marks this swift-moving, intensely dramatic saga.In The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, Asprey showed us that Napoleon was not the father of chaos but rather an heir to chaos. In this sequel, we see Napoleon struggling to deal with that chaos. We peer over Napoleon's shoulder as he solidifies his growing empire through a series of dynastic marriages, military victories, and shrewd diplomatic manipulations. We watch Napoleon lose control of his empire, plot his return from Elba, rally peasants in his march on Paris, and endure defeat at Waterloo and exile to St. Helena. The concluding installment to this exciting, reckless thrill ride shows Napoleon as he was-not saint, not sinner, but a man dedicated to and ultimately devoured by his vision of himself, his empire, and his world.
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Between the years 1805 and 1815, the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte conquered most of continental Europe, establishing their leader, if but briefly, as "a new Charlemagne." In the second part of his two volumes on the life of the emperor, military historian Robert Asprey examines the armies' triumphs and eventual defeat, following in their footsteps from Spain to Russia, and on to Waterloo.
Bonaparte, Asprey writes, aspired to forge and lead a united, peaceful Europe, a quest that required much blood to be shed. A former U.S. marine officer, Asprey is a reliable commentator on matters of battlefield strategy and tactics, and his book's greatest strength is his power to invoke the feel of bloody engagements, which include the Battle of Borodino, where more than 40,000 Russians fell in a single day (cut down, he notes, by the more than 2 million rounds that French muskets fired); Wagram, where French forces managed to eke out victory over their Austrian foes despite a series of costly blunders; Corunna, where the French forces, having marched 15 and more miles a day, proved "that there have probably been no tougher soldiers in the world"; and the decisive action at Waterloo, where French, Belgian, German, and English armies clashed amid thunderstorms and confusion to an end that was anything but inevitable.
Other books do a better job of treating Napoleon as a political being, but Asprey's is one of the better recent books on Napoleon as general, and students of military history will learn much from his account. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Robert Asprey is a former U.S. Marine captain and an accomplished and esteemed military historian. He is the author of numerous books, including At Bellau Wood, Frederick the Great, The Panther's Feast, and War in the Shadows. He lives in Cadiz, Spain.
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