Tuesday 19 September 2017

Book Review: Napoleon by Frank McLynn

Title: Napoleon
Author: Frank McLynn
Publisher: Pimlico
Publication Date: 1998 (1997)

Pages: 752
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Source: Bought Copy (Secondhand)

Napoleon Bonaparte's character and achievements have always divided critics and commentators. In this compelling new biography Frank McLynn draws on the most recent scholarship and throws a brilliant light on this most paradoxical of men - as military leader, lover and emperor. Tracing Napoleon's extraordinary career, McLynn examines the Promethean legend from the Corsican roots, through the years of the French Revolution and the military triumphs, to the coronation in 1804 and ultimate defeat and imprisonment. Napoleon the man emerges as an even more fascinating character than previously imagined, and McLynn brilliantly reveals the extent to which he was both existential hero and plaything of Fate; mathematician and mystic; intellectual giant and moral pygmy; Great Man and deeply flawed human being. (Goodreads Synopsis)

McLynn's Napoleon is, indeed, a compelling 'warts-and-all' biography. I found his opinions of Napoleon's motives fascinating, and I learnt a lot more than I'd known before about his family relationships and the role they played in his decision-making. The only thing that makes me give this work four stars instead of five is the fact that some of the battle discussions became a little long and dry at times. One or two pages was fine, but when they dragged on longer than that, I did find myself skimming a little, but then I am no keen military historian and am more interested in people than battle tactics. Despite that, it was still a wonderful read and a book I am happy to add to my biography collection. It's well worth a read for military history buffs and for those interested in Napoleon and France under his rule.

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