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Talleyrand Paperback – March 30, 2001
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As the "cult of Napoleon" rose in France, Talleyrand, along with Fouche and Marshal Marmont became reviled, the hated betrayers of the Emperor-- never mind that the Emperor was bleeding France white in pusuit of his own personal glory.
As a consequence, this book, written in the 1930s by a British diplomat, to some extent reintroduced the French to the talents of their greatest statesman. The definitive French biography of the same time, by Lacour Gayet, is more detailed, but ultimately diminishes Talleyrand's achievements.
Cooper is ideally placed to interpet Talleyrand-- the salon society that the Prince belonged to is now long gone, but Cooper has a first-hand sort of feeling for the ways in which upper crust Anglo-French society mixed social and policy issues, and the role that women played in the mix.
He also writes beautifully. Talleyrand is a tough brief in that regard-- the man writes so elegantly and sharply that mediocre writers just end up stringing together the bon mots-- not Cooper, whose own cleverness is on display, particularly in the descriptions of the Congress of Vienna.Read more ›
Talleyrand's years span some of the most fascinating times in France (in my opinion). He embodied the corruption of the old regime, the spirit of the revolution, and the hubris of Napoleon's empire. Through (and in spite of) it all, he seemed to keep a level head when those around him got carried away.
I found Talleyrand to be one of the most inspiring figures in history, and I think that is in no small part to Cooper's engaging writing style.
In this classic 1932 biography by Duff Cooper (a picaresque political character in his own right), the legendary French Foreign Minister is treated with respect, almost reverence, and not without a touch of personal fondness. The author clearly does not see Talleyrand as Napoleon came to see him: as nothing but "dung in a silk stocking." Cooper constructs a portrait of Talleyrand based in large part on the diaries of men and women who mixed socially with the legendary statesman in the salons of Paris, London and elsewhere. I have found that such sources are most enlightening and allow the reader to gain a more nuanced perspective and human reflection of the subject. The picture of Talleyrand that emerges is one of a world-class charmer, a conversationalist nonpareil. One gets the sense that Talleyrand would succeed as well in early twenty-first century Washington as he did in early nineteenth century Paris.
Much has been made of Talleyrand's unusual ability to survive the convulsions of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written, easy-to-read, and informative biography of Talleyrand. And the story moves along at a good clip, too.Published 5 days ago by rhunter
A marvelously human story of a remarkable individual. Duff Cooper's writing is effortless, astute and brilliant.Published 18 months ago by Fred C. Dobbs
When told that those who fell in with Napoleon had "betrayed the cause of Europe", Talleyrand replied that was "a question of dates". Read morePublished 20 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
wiley intellect and written by a student of good living. Liked it a lot.Published 21 months ago by jay walton
Excellent book to study diplomacy and read about XVIII century french history. The life of Talleyrand is an extraordinary tale to know about the best french diplomatic.Published on April 8, 2014 by Hector F.
“Talleyrand” is Duff Cooper’s much-admired look at the life of the legendary French diplomat Charles-Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand-Perigord. Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by Manray9
Cooper clearly and professionally chronicles the life of one of the most fascinating characters in history. I'm recommending this book to my book club.Published on March 15, 2012 by Carol Orme-johnson
This lively and opinionated biography of French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, who lived from 1754 to 1838 and was known simply as "Talleyrand", is a true... Read morePublished on August 14, 2011 by H. F. Gibbard
I initially purchased this book to learn more about Talleyrand who I had encountered mainly through his cutting quotes. Read morePublished on November 14, 2010 by Cesar Ghorayeb