No military figure in history has been quite as polarizing as Napoleon Bonaparte. Was he a monster, driven by an endless, ruinous quest for military glory? Or a social and political visionary brought down by petty, reactionary kings of Europe? In the most definitive account to date, respected historian Charles Esdaile argues that the chief motivating factor for Napoleon was his insatiable desire for fame. More than a myth-busting portrait of Napoleon, however, this volume offers a panoramic view of the armed conflicts that spread so quickly out of revolutionary France to countries as remote as Sweden and Egypt. Napoleon's Wars seeks to answer the question, What was it that made the countries of Europe fight one another for so long and with such devastating results? Esdaile portrays the European battles as the consequence of rulers who were willing to take the immense risks of either fighting or supporting Napoleon-risks that resulted in the extinction of entire countries. This is history writing equal to its subject-grand and ambitious.
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Charles Esdaile is a senior lecturer in history and the author of several books on history, including The Peninsular Warand Spain in the Liberal Age.
One of AudioFile magazine's Golden Voices, Simon Prebble has received over twenty Earphones Awards and five Listen-Up Awards, and he has been a finalist fourteen times for an Audie Award. In 2006, Publishers Weekly named him Narrator of the Year, and he was named Booklist's 2010 Voice of Choice.
Napoleon impressed his will on an entire era in European history, but his destiny, and France's, were also shaped by Europe's reigning figures and competing national interests. Esdaile puts Napoleon's career into the context of European politics in this excellent political history and military biography, which is perfectly rendered by the ever-reliable Simon Prebble. Prebble brings a judicious balance to a narrative that is filled with knaves and connivers. The story, though familiar, is compelling, and Esdaile has a fine eye for the contemporary observation or quote. Prebble brings Esdaile's Napoleon unforgettably to life: ever hungering for glory and unmindful of all else, stubbornly overreaching himself at every turn, relentlessly heading for his own downfall. D.A.W. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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