Book Review:
Napoleon's Road to Glory

By J. David Markham

J. David Markham is not only a world renowned Napoleonic expert, but he is also a huge fan of Napoleon Bonaparte.

I've seen him on a number of documentaries and you can guarantee that whenever there's a curly question about the little general you can depend upon Markham to find the most positive aspect to the discussion.

In his biography of Bonaparte, Napoleon's Road to Glory, Markham has written a very readable volume on the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte.

It is detailed and will give those interested in the Napoleonic Era a really good overview of what went on, together with some of the intrigues, jealousies and great (and not so great) characters of the period.

It covers his early life, education, his prospering during the French Revolution, Toulon, Josephine, the Egyptian campaign, the years of the Consulate, Italy, his political and social reforms, becoming emperor, economic warfare, the disasters in Spain, the invasion of Russia, his battle for survival in Germany, his first abdication, Elba, the 100 Days campaign, Waterloo, then St Helena and his treatment there.

Markham has highlighted lots of information that I did not know before - including the reason Napoleon crowned himself - and explains concisely how he managed to unite a fractious France under his rule and his social and economic reforms.

Napoleon's military campaigns are covered, but not in as much detail and they could have been. Markham has concentrated more on the political and social than the martial.

Napoleon's Road to Glory is a fine biography that gives interesting insights into Napoleon's career and personality, but it is fair to say that Markham doesn't apply the blowtorch of criticism to him.

Bonaparte was a great man, but he was no angel.

He was enlightened, but autocratic. Ruthless, yet could be compassionate. He did monumental things and gave his name to history as possibly the greatest political and military leader of all time. His achievements are not lessened by his flaws and mistakes.

- Richard Moore






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