Andrew Roberts introduced by Swapan Dasgupta
Napoleon Bonaparte lived one of the most extraordinary of all human lives. In the space of just 20 years, from October 1795 when as a young artillery captain he cleared the streets of Paris of insurrectionists to his final defeat at the horribly mismanaged battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Napoleon transformed France and Europe. After seizing power in a coup d’état he ended the corruption and incompetence into which the Revolution had descended. In a series of dazzling battles he reinvented the art of warfare; in peace, he completely remade the laws of France, modernised her systems of education and administration, and presided over a flourishing of the beautiful ‘Empire style’ in the arts. The impossibility of defeating his most persistent enemy, Great Britain, led him to make draining and ultimately fatal expeditions into Spain and Russia where half a million Frenchmen died and his Empire began to unravel. More than any other modern biographer, Andrew Roberts conveys Napoleon’s tremendous energy, both physical and intellectual, and the attractiveness of his personality, even to his enemies.