Michael Broers

Book - 2015

"Written with great energy and authority--and using the newly available personal archives of Napoleon himself--the first volume of a majestic two-part biography of the great French emperor and conqueror. All previous lives of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words. This is the first life of Napoleon, in any language, that makes full use of his newly released personal correspondence compiled by the Napoléon Foundation in Paris. All previous lives... of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words. Michael Broers' biography draws on the thoughts of Napoleon himself as his incomparable life unfolded. It reveals a man of intense emotion, but also of iron self-discipline; of acute intelligence and immeasurable energy. Tracing his life from its dangerous Corsican roots, through his rejection of his early identity, and the dangerous military encounters of his early career, it tells the story of the sheer determination, ruthlessness, and careful calculation that won him the precarious mastery of Europe by 1807. After the epic battles of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland, France was the dominant land power on the continent. Here is the first biography of Napoleon in which this brilliant, violent leader is evoked to give the reader a full, dramatic, and all-encompassing portrait."--Publisher's description.

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BIOGRAPHY/Napoleon I v. 2
vol. 2: 1 / 1 copies available
vol. 3: 1 / 1 copies available
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2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Napoleon I v. 2 v. 2 Checked In
2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Napoleon I v. 3 v. 3 Checked In
New York, NY : Pegasus Books LLC 2015-
First Pegasus Books hardcover edition
Physical Description
volumes : illustrations (some color), portraits, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
Main Author
Michael Broers (author)
  • Volume 1.
  • Soldier of Destiny, 1769-1805
  • volume 2.
  • The Spirit of the age, 1805-1810
  • volume 3.
  • The decline and fall of an empire, 1811-1821
Review by Choice Review

Making use of new sources (in particular, the reedited Correspondence Générale of Napoleon), Broers (Oxford) has written a compelling account of the unparalleled rise of an exceptional human being from obscurity to the mastery of Continental Europe. This first of two volumes follows Bonaparte's escape from Corsica, his military training in France, the early battles, and concomitant efforts at state building. Along the way emerges the portrait of a man of intelligence, energy, and discipline bent on bringing the revolutionary gospel of equality and justice to other lands. Unlike some who see Napoleon as ruthless and cynical, Broers finds him often clement and generous, and as field commander and politician/statesman insightful and evenhanded. He recognizes the young general's genius but does not overlook significant mistakes or the role played by fortune in important victories, like the crucial Battle of Marengo. Napoleon's well-known policies of amalgame and ralliement, his ready tolerance of free discussion in committee, and his willingness to recognize and promote talent regardless of social standing help explain his success in building governments at home and abroad. For Broer, Napoleon's signal achievement is the creation of a peerless fighting machine, the Grande Armée, which, at the end of volume 1, is poised to confront the Third Coalition at Austerlitz. Summing Up: Essential. Graduate students and faculty. --Joseph I. Donohoe, Michigan State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. Review by Booklist Review

Like Andrew Roberts' Napoleon (2014), this profile of a much-written-about historical celebrity justifies itself by a new source, an ongoing scholarly project to collect Napoléon's correspondence. Broers' first biographical tome (of a projected two) extends to 1805. Many historians, Broers included, give approving interpretation to Napoléon's reforms, which delivered what the French generally wanted: an end to the Revolution's political instability, preservation of its main social changes, and peace with France's foreign enemies. How Napoléon achieved these goals occupies detailed swaths of Broers' narrative; more interesting to most readers will be his description of Bonaparte's apprenticeships for power. In Corsica, Toulon, Italy, Egypt, and Paris, Napoléon made his military reputation and honed political skills that vaulted him to the top, making him the epitome, in Broers' view, of a generation of ambitious men. Attentive to Napoléon's private life, Broers also accents Napoléon's human qualities in a largely positive, though hardly uncritical, portrait. In volume 2, Broers will take up Napoléon's responsibility for the wars of 1805-15. A solid addition to the Napoléonic canon.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Relying heavily on a newly released body of Napoleon Bonaparte's personal correspondence, Oxford historian Broers (Napoleon's Other War) brings Napoleon to the brink of mastery of Europe in this first of two projected volumes. Recognizing the "cynical and manipulative" elements of his subject's character, Broers also emphasizes Napoleon's "positive, optimistic mind." A visionary with his feet on the ground, Napoleon absorbed and synthesized the era's vibrant intellectual trends and translated them into systems. War, administration, justice, education-all still bear Napoleon's stamp. He navigated the Revolution's turbulent waters, becoming a general in the process. It was in Italy, however, that Napoleon first demonstrated the "verve and genius" that in these years informed his military, diplomatic, and political judgment. Broers remarks that Napoleon "lost his way" in Egypt, but recovered his equilibrium in the 1799 coup of 18 Brumaire, consolidating his position with iron self-discipline until the constitution of the year 10 (1802) opened the way for the administrative reforms that established the parameters of empire. The major unresolved issue remained: a conflict with Britain, which Broers aptly dubs "a dialogue of the deaf," wherein each party saw the other as fundamentally committed to expansion and exploitation. That perspective underwrote the creation of the Grande Armée. Broer calls this motivated by "the realpolitik of survival," a point he'll have to prove in his next volume. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Based on Napoleon Bonaparte's (1769-1821) own correspondence, the memoirs of contemporaries, and the latest scholarship, this second volume in a projected three-part series by Broers (Western European History, Oxford Univ.; Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny) focuses on the five-year period that saw the French conqueror and his empire at the apex of power. During these years, Napoleon succeeded in battles such as Austerlitz (1805) and Wagram (1809); detailed maps chart these campaigns. Broers also outlines the domestic, political, and personal machinations that accompanied these victories. The author further explains how Napoleon aimed to place the army at the center of French national consciousness, sought to upstage the Catholic Church, and was haunted by fears, if not paranoia, over the future of his family dynasty. The book ends with the events of 1810, a time of fragile international peace, when Napoleon divorced his first wife, empress Joséphine, and wed Austrian princess Marie Louise. VERDICT Broers creates a brilliantly researched and exquisitely detailed work, though the heavy emphasis on military history will unfortunately deter all but the most serious fans of this period.-Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

This first in a two-part biography does an excellent job of delineating the emotional and intellectual development of the Corsican general-turned-French emperor. English historian Broers (Western European History/Oxford Univ.; Napoleon's Other War: Bandits, Rebels and Their Pursuers in the Age of Revolutions, 2010, etc.) offers a wonderful sense of the geniusand manwho was so stunningly able to remake European boundaries and mores after the meltdown from the French Revolution. In this first volume, the author moves from Napoleon's idyllic years growing up in Corsica to his being chased out of the "cradle" with his mother and family for running afoul of the republicans in 1793. He eventually washed up on the shores of the Riviera and was able to make his career mark in the army with the siege of Toulon. The "politics of survival" dictated the years to follow, up to 1765, but Broers astutely points out that Napoleon was the last generation of supremely and classically well-read leaders (a group that includes Thomas Jefferson) and that his advance in the military, as well as within a heavily striated society, was largely the result of his diligent, ongoing efforts at self-improvement. Working from the "still emerging," unexpurgated correspondence (which reaches the year 1809) being compiled by the Fondation Napolon in Paris, under the direction of distinguished French historian Thierry Lentz, the author offers some exciting character observations. Napoleon had an eye for catching talenthe adored and elevated his very worthy stepchildren, Hortense and Eugnewhile tolerating the outrageous shenanigans of many members of his family. From his previous work, Broers is well-attuned to how Napoleon fashioned his conquest and administration of Italy: "amalgamation" and "rallying to the new regime." His proto-empire then allowed a swift and efficient system of wider reforms in France after the coup. Among the plethora of Napoleon biographies, this is immensely engaging for lay readers. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.