Author McLynn explores the Promethean legend from his Corsican roots, through the chaotic years of the French Revolution and his extraordinary military triumphs, to the coronation in 1804, to his fatal decision in 1812 to add Russia to his seemingly endless conquests, and his ultimate defeat, imprisonment, and death in Saint Helena. McLynn aptly reveals the extent to which Napoleon was both existential hero and plaything of fate, mathematician and mystic, intellectual giant and moral pygmy, great man and deeply flawed human being.
As Napoleon’s obsession with his family surfaces and his conviction that every man has his price, the emperor emerges as a figure closer to a modern Mafia godfather than a visionary European. In this work, McLynn brings the reader, as never before, closer to understanding the much mythologized Napoleon.
"Fair-minded and well written . . . McLynn sketches in context and milieu and, after a slow start, brings his subject to life. Napoleon's paradoxes, his extraordinary energy, his mercurial temperament all form part of a rounded and persuasive portrait."—The New York Times
"A a well-researched, convincing portrait."—Publishers Weekly
"Monumental . . . Using an interesting mixture of narrative and analysis, McLynn explores aspects of Napoleon's life often ignored by other authors. . . . What results is a less psychopathic, more human view of this much mythologized European. Strongly recommended for all collections."—Library Journal
"McLynn's study is for readers wanting a more in-depth analysis. . . . Written with great stylistic flourish, McLynn's full embrace of his subject's life, which benefits from exhaustive research resulting in a comprehensive picture of the Napoleonic era, is a rich reading experience."—Booklist