On June 25, 1807, Napoleon met and embraced his recent foe, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, on a raft in the middle of the River Niemen near Tilsit. This theatrical but historic occasion represented the pinnacle of Napoleon's glory. The Tsar was forced to accept an alliance dividing Europe into two spheres of influence, and Napoleon became supreme ruler of the continent of Europe west of Russia.
Alistair Horne traces Napoleon's ascent to power int he years preceding this climax to his political and military career: the success of the ''peace machine,'' the formation of the impressive Grande Armee and the abortive plan to invade England. The author examines in detail the strategic success of the Ulm-Austerlitz campaign in 1805 - ''the first great battle of modern history'' - in which Napoleon decisively defeated the Austro-Russian army. With the ensuing double victory of Jena-Auerstadt in 1806 and the defeat of the Prussians, Napoleon became undisputed master of Central Europe. In 1807, the Battle of Eylau, resulting in a draw - after which he admitted that his ''soul was oppressed to see so many victims'' - led to his crushing victory at Friedland which set the seal on the campaigns begun two years previously.
Napoleon, Master of Europe is more than a military history, for it also describes in colorful and convincing detail the background of contemporary social life in France, England and other combatant nations.
Alistair Horne was educated at Le Rosey, Switzerland, and Jesus College, Cambridge. He ended his war service with the rank of Captain in the Coldstream Guards attached to MI5 in the Middle East. From 1952 to 1955 he worked as a foreign correspondent for the DAILY TELEPGRAPH. In 1969 he founded the Alistair Horne research fellowship in modern history, St Antony's, Oxford. His numerous books on history and politics have been translated into over ten languages, he was awarded the Hawthornden prize (for THE PRICE OF GLORY) and the Wolfson prize (for A SAVAGE WAR OF PEACE). In 1992 he was awarded the CBE; in 1993 he received the French Legion d'Honneur for his work on French history and a Litt.D. from Cambridge University; in 2003 he was knighted for services to Franco-British relations. He died in 2017.