Napoleon by Alan Forrest
Life, Legacy, and Image: A Biography

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From Alan Forrest, a preeminent British scholar, comes an exceedingly readable account of the man and his legend

On a cold December day in 1840 Parisians turned out in force to watch as the body of Napoleon was solemnly carried on a riverboat from Courbevoie on its final journey to the Invalides. The return of their long-dead emperor's corpse from the island of St. Helena was a moment that Paris had eagerly awaited, though many feared that the memories stirred would serve to further destabilize a country that had struggled for order and direction since he had been sent into exile.

In this book Alan Forrest tells the remarkable story of how the son of a Corsican attorney became the most powerful man in Europe, a man whose charisma and legacy endured after his lonely death many thousands of miles from the country whose fate had become so entwined with his own.

Along the way, Forrest also cuts away the many layers of myth and counter myth that have grown up around Napoleon, a man who mixed history and legend promiscuously. Drawing on original research and his own distinguished background in French history, Forrest demonstrates that Napoleon was as much a product of his times as their creator.


About Alan Forrest

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ALAN FORREST is a professor of modern history and director of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies. He works on modern French history, especially the period of the French Revolution and Empire, and on the history of modern warfare. He serves on the editorial boards of French History and War in History, and is a member of the advisory committee for Annales Historiques de la Revolution Francaise. He lives in York, UK.
Published December 11, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But we also see his congenital inability to delegate, a fault caused by “his arrogance and his complete faith in his own abilities.” The author traces Napoleon’s political rise from consul to emperor and tries to communicate concisely the intricate political alliances in Europe—alliances that at ...

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and I...

Publishers Weekly

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As an exemplary military leader and self-crowned emperor, Napoleon capitalized on his mastery of manipulating traditional media, says Forrest, director of the Centre for 18th Century Studies in England: “He surrounded himself with journalists and spin-doctors long before it became a tradition o...

Sep 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and I...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of Europe and emperor of the French, achieved greatness in just 51 years of life.

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Project MUSE

Forrest rightly emphasizes that these surviving letters represent one side of a conversation with the soldier's family (the other side being implicit or explicitly referenced in the son's letters).

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BBC History Magazine

The experiment with a liberal empire was inevitably short-lived, but it resurrected Napoleon’s reputation as a revolutionary general, combating the forces of reaction, a crucial facet of his appeal during the following century.

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