Patrick Rambaud The Retreat

ISBN 13: 9780802142658

The Retreat

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9780802142658: The Retreat

The spectacular sequel to The Battle, winner of the Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix Roman de l'Académie Française, this stunning second volume of Patrick Rambaud's Napoleonic trilogy opens in September 1812 with the French army at the gates of Moscow. Exhausted and demoralized, they are only a quarter of the 400,000-strong force that crossed the river Niemen three months before. But the sight of this famous city feels like a triumph and a chance, at last, to enjoy a conqueror's spoils.

Napoleon rides to the Dorogomilóv Gate expecting to be met by city elders bearing tokens of surrender, but no one appears; Moscow has been evacuated. Oblivious to their predicament, Napoleon sends to Paris for comic novels and imagines that it is only a matter of time before Tsar Alexander sues for peace. Finally, a month later, Napoleon gives up and the Grand Armée begins its tragic retreat. The French will endure their most brutal test as they lose over twenty thousand men due to fighting, the cold, and starvation.

With the same pulse-quickening dramatic power he showed in The Battle, Rambaud brings this disastrous campaign to brilliant, near-hallucinatory life in The Retreat.

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About the Author:

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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