Like volume one of Michael Broers’s magnificent biography, The Spirit of the Age is based on the new version of Napoleon’s correspondence, made available by the Fondation Napoléon in Paris. It is the story of Napoleon’s conquest of Europe—and that of his magnificent Grande Armée—as they sweep through the length and breadth of Europe. This narrative opens with Napoleon’s as yet untested army making its way through the Bavarian Alps in the early winter of 1805 to fall upon the unsuspecting Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz. This was only the beginning of a series of spectacular victories over the Prussians and Russians over the next two years. The chronicle then follows the army into Spain, in 1808, the most ill-considered step in Napoleon’s career as ruler, and then through the most daunting triumph of all, the final defeat of Austria at Wagram, in 1809, the bloodiest battle in European history up to that time.

Michael Broers is a professor of Western European history at Oxford University. He is the author of The Napoleonic Empire in Italy, winner of the Grand Prix Napoleon Prize, and Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny (Pegasus). He lives in Oxford, England.