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Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and Image: A Biography Hardcover – December 11, 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Using biography as framework, Forrest tackles interpretive problems that attend Napoléon’s swath through history. Did he reverse the French Revolution or consolidate its reforms? Was he a one-man band of destruction, or did France’s adversaries bear some responsibility for the Napoleonic Wars? One challenge Forrest faces is the publicity Napoléon assiduously cultivated about himself in the press, in heroic paintings, and not least in his memoirs––the Gospel according to St. Helena, to derisive historians. Forrest concedes that Napoléon’s propaganda achieved at least popular acquiescence to his regime and also that it strengthened positive elements in his reputation as a general and as a civil administrator. Proof of France’s thumbs-up memory of Napoléon stands in the shape of the Arc de Triomphe and his tomb in the Hôtel des Invalides. But one must go elsewhere for evidence of Napoléon’s dictatorial proclivities, such as in his execution of a Bourbon prince and his invasion of Russia against the prophetic counsel of advisers. Forrest provides another such place, for, not fooled by Napoléonic imagery, he makes a patiently remorseless case against Napoléon’s historical legend. --Gilbert Taylor


“With his emphasis on the construction of the Napoleonic myth, Forrest offers an introduction to a fascinating figure that should whet readers' appetites for more.” ―Publishers Weekly

“[Forrest] seeks not only to show us Napoleon the man, but also Napoleon the player in a vast drama. . . . An open-minded, cleareyed view of a man who manifested the best and the worst of his species.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A comprehensive, yet always thoroughly accessible account . . . Forrest sets out to write for a broad audience and succeeds admirably . . . this book helps us understand why, 200 years on, Napoleon still matters.” ―BBC History Magazine

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250009030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250009036
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,860,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy the books written by Alan Forrest as they tend to hit on important topics that are often left untouched by many historians. This book reaches into new territory for him. The book was a good read, very easy, but at the same time it was broad. Many of his military campaigns are not covered in depth, but this is not a military book. Forrest covers Napoleon's internal reforms in more detail and makes them interesting. The downside to the book is that I do not feel that it has too much of a direction. At the end of the book I learned something and enjoyed it, but even now I cannot tell you what he was trying to accomplish. Really I would give this book 3.5 stars, but it is worth checking out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading was pretty dull
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Format: Paperback
Let me be clear this is the first Napoleon Bio I have completed. However, I am currently listening to podcast by Mr. David Markham, Mike Duncan and others, and I generally get the sense that his book paints in broad strokes and gives general description of the episodes in his life: Upbringing in Corsica and Ajaccio, his inclinations toward the Corsican partisans; military school, his early success and Brigadier General commission after Toulon, Triumvirate, Consul and Emperor. His battles and tactics are not discussed at length in this book, nor his various personal relationships (Josephine, Maria Waleska, Marie Louise). Its most interesting chapter is his final one, on his Legacy; which gives a somewhat general picture of his influence in French politics and national identity. All in all an OK book, but I will continue to search for a more deep title, rich in anecdotes and excerpts of his many excellent letters and reports from the battlefront.
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