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Publisher's Summary

A landmark new biography that presents the man behind the many myths. The first writer in English to go back to the original European sources, Adam Zamoyski’s portrait of Napoleon is historical biography at its finest.

Napoleon inspires passionately held and often conflicting visions. Was he a godlike genius, a romantic avatar, a megalomaniac monster, a compulsive warmonger or just a nasty little dictator?

Whilst he displayed elements of these traits at certain times, Napoleon was none of these things. He was a man and, as Adam Zamoyski presents him in this landmark biography, a rather ordinary one at that. He exhibited some extraordinary qualities during some phases of his life, but it is hard to credit genius to a general who presided over the worst (and self-inflicted) disaster in military history and who single-handedly destroyed the great enterprise he and others had toiled so hard to construct. A brilliant tactician, he was no strategist.

But nor was Napoleon an evil monster. He could be selfish and violent, but there is no evidence of him wishing to inflict suffering gratuitously. His motives were mostly praiseworthy and his ambition no greater than that of contemporaries such as Alexander I of Russia, Wellington, Nelson, Metternich, Blucher, Bernadotte and many more. What made his ambition exceptional was the scope it was accorded by circumstance.

Adam Zamoyski strips away the lacquer of prejudice and places Napoleon the man within the context of his times. In the 1790s, a young Napoleon entered a world at war, a bitter struggle for supremacy and survival with leaders motivated by a quest for power and by self-interest. He did not start this war but dominated his life and continued, with one brief interruption, until his final defeat in 1815.

Based on primary sources in many European languages, this magnificent audiobook examines how Napoleone Buonaparte, the boy from Corsica, became ‘Napoleon’, how he achieved what he did and how it came about that he undid it. It does not justify or condemn but seeks instead to understand Napoleon’s extraordinary trajectory.

©2018 Adam Zamoyski (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Always elegant in style and original in analysis. Zamoyski, a master of the sources and of the culture and politics that created his subject, produces a fresh, nuanced, beautifully written, gripping, and outstanding biography of Napoleon that reveals him to be a triumph of luck and accident as much as the invincible genius of the legend." (Simon Sebag-Montefiore, author of The Romanovs and Jerusalem: the Biography)

"Napoleon is an out and out masterpiece and a joy to read." (Sir Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad)

"A lifetime’s diligent research and profound thinking about Napoleon and his times has gone into this hugely readable, highly enjoyable and well-balanced biography. Zamoyski is at the top of his game as a biographer." (Andrew Roberts, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London) 

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Unreal

A fair assessment of a great man. Shows both sides of the coin. Napoleon, is undoubtedly a fucking legend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tommy
  • 29-04-2019

Impressive biography

I really enjoyed this most impressive biography, but would have enjoyed further detail on the ill-fated 1812 Russian campaign and Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. S. J. McReynolds
  • 12-12-2018

Iconoclasm gone too far

Zamoyski's stated intention is to expose the man behind the myth - but he merely does a demolition job on both. Dwelling in great detail on Napoleon's weaknesses and failures - but skating over his triumphs (Marengo, Austerlitz, Champaubert) and the code Napoleon - Zamoyski demeans his profession. This is a hatchet job - thinly disguised as history. To be avoided.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-02-2021

Worthwhile read

More battle focus would of been nice, but considering the book is so long, it's focus as a humanizing portrait of Napoleon is effective and helps paint a clear picture of the man throughout the highs and lows of his eventful life and as a general, ruler, and mortal.

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  • Peter Wiltshire
  • 28-02-2019

A More Critical Biography

If you want a idolatry biography of Napoleon do not come here. This is a book that gives you new critical balanced information about Napoleons life, politics and military ambitions, without detracting from Napoleons colossal achievements.

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  • Evan H
  • 28-12-2018

A straight forward & detailed biography.

A roughly chronological account of Napoleons life from late adolesence, rise to power and career as emperor to it's conclusion.
As the subtitle suggests, it is a surprisingly humanising account of such a huge figure. Plenty of character detail based on accounts of his contemporaries and the man's own writing. A good addition to any collection of histories concerning European history.

As with his other readings Leighton Pugh's naration is clear & generally excellent, if a little soporific in tone at times.

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  • A. J. Taylor
  • 03-06-2021

Fast Paced But Not Comprehensive

Count Zamoyski is an excellent writer and in my opinion has written the best book in popular history on the Napoleonic Wars - 1812. This book is good and provides an overview of the controversial upstart emperor, however there are details missing. Take count that this is 11 hours shorter than Andrew Roberts' biography. However, these can be supplemented with other books even by Zamoyski himself. The strangest thing is there is no conclusion or analysis, Napoleon dies and the book ends. What's the overall message from the author around the man himself? Something which is debated and constantly under contention even today. This is better than 'Napoleon the Great', Zamoyski although still a fan is more realistic and clearly not trying to sell a tagline. The magic cleary left Napoleon after 1810 and mistake after blunder cost him everything. In summary, to me the subject is fascinating and I have tried to devour every book on the subject on my path and clearly I recommend this book!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-2021

Good

this author sure didn't like Napoleon too much, focused little on his triumphs and much on his shortcomings. still a good listen though, I would recommend it but if you haven't heard or read another Napoleon biography before, keep in mind that many others are much more positive.

for instance, austerlitz took two sentences to describe

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  • Lucas Stepinsky
  • 29-09-2020

Brilliant

Excellent book with brilliant narrator about one of the most remarkable historical figures.
Highly commended.

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  • John Sharpe
  • 20-02-2020

A Great Life Story with many Lessons

Napoleon was one of the great men of history. His mythical status is richly deserved and Adam Zamoyski does a great job in walking us through his many astonishing achievements. Excellent narration by Leighton Pugh.

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  • west_35th
  • 12-01-2020

French and Italian accent unlistenable

Let’s face it: to hire a reader who’s not mother tongue at least in French can’t be a good idea when you tell the story of the French general.
The end result is cringing.

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